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Beauty and the Beast Review

With this era of Disney being the one I’m most familiar with, it’s still surprising as to how little I’ve seen. As a kid, I probably saw Beauty and the Beast, but I can’t remember what I was doing yesterday, let alone what I was doing whilst thinking The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland was a masterpiece of cinema. Surely on a rewatch I’d stand by that, but for now I’m stuck in an endless loop, watching classics I feel a glimmer of nostalgia for from the glimpses of my memory that have tucked away an attachment to 90s Disney feature films. Whilst I may not remember it all that well, Disney, alongside various friends and family, are refusing to let the traditional tale of beauty meeting beast escape from my failing memory, ploughing away at remakes, discussion and love for this harmless Disney classic.

Well, I’m putting an end to that right now. Whilst most of Disney’s films have been oddly palatable (with the exception of a few), I truly don’t understand the love for Beauty and the Beast. Whilst the animation is certainly leagues above that of any other film Disney had to offer at the time, inevitably, this disguise will soon falter. Genuinely impressive animation will only take an audience so far, so the rather predictable and oddly lifeless plot found within Beauty and the Beast undoes a great deal of the work put in by the animation.

It’s very by the numbers in its presentation of characters, that Disney formula shines on through. Completely expected, routine moments that shouldn’t spark any real interest from those that have seen more than two Disney films before this, yet somehow so endearing and loved by many. Animation aside, this is all the components of your standard Disney experience. A plucky, do-no-harm leading character coupled with an underdog who has to either remove a curse of save the day, whilst hindered by a side-character whose sole personality trait can be surmised with the word “prick”. Beauty and the Beast features many more characters than that bland trio, introducing and shooing away characters without a moment to spare.

Particularly clumsy at times, the biggest downfall of Beauty and the Beast is its musical numbers, which fall well below expectation. Oddly memorable earworms that pad the running time out exceptionally well, but offer up lyrics and accompaniments that feel lifeless and rather bleak in motif. Boring, is the word I’d use to describe the array of musical numbers. For all the merits of Beauty and the Beast’s animation, everything surrounding and depending upon it is such a car crash of mediocrity that it was nigh on impossible to really invest in it.

Predictable, extremely boring and ultimately a rather strange waste of time, Beauty and the Beast struggles with that very trendy, overused Disney formula as it swings from song to song without a care in the world. Following the carefully laid plans in an identical style to every other film offered up by Mickey’s funhouse, I fail to enjoy much of the film due to how complacent it is. A few unexpected twists or tricks up the sleeve of directing pair Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise would’ve made this a far more engaging film. Something with a little more depth would have been the desperate change this film cries out for.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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