Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

A tale as old as time… And they’re not kidding. The animated Beauty and the Beast was groundbreaking for its storytelling and more modern take on the fairytale subgenre  (Disney hadn’t made one in decades). 

     As part of Disney’s master plot to monetize our childhoods, we get an actual live action take on the story of Belle (Emma Watson) and… um… Beast (Dan Stevens). Seen the original? Well, your old favorites are here like Gaston (Luke Evans), Maurice (Kevin Kline), Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), Lumière (Ewan McGregor), all those guys. 

     Seriously, its the cartoon. But 40 minutes longer. And its not even a bad 40 minutes, Beast gets a song and man does he power ballad the shit out of it. It’s what stood out the most out of the additional content. 

     While seeing the movie and thinking that it’s just like the cartoon and I should’ve stayed home and watched that instead, something dawned on me: The performances, in particular Emma Watson as Belle, was not only perfect, but magical. She is the embodiment of the character; smart, lovely, and with a quiet dignity. I was captivated by her performance, and it’s worth seeking out. 

     The chemistry with Beast works well enough, but the famous ballroom dance scene didn’t have that majestic push that the animated version had. Maybe I’m just not a child anymore. And while I did enjoy Gaston’s backstory being fleshed out, and the witch’s curse actually being thought out (covering some plot holes along the way), I just grew to appreciate the animated original more because of how streamlined its story was. 

     As entertainment, the movie totally works; the problems, while minor, are my own to bear. This version was made for the adults who were raised on the original, stick to the cartoon for your kids. It worked for you, right?

Moana Review 

     It still astonishes me that Disney can still make a movie like Moana. Let’s not kid ourselves here, Disney can still phone it in and they’ll make a shit ton of money. A shit ton. But with the advancement of technology, which makes for an abundance of lazy animated films, the filmmakers here took such care of the story, and the technical elements, that the company just keeps setting its own bar higher than before. 

     Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) has just been made the chief of her tribe, but harsh times have fallen upon the tribe; fish, coconuts, you name it have become scarce. So its up to Moana to find the person responsible for upsetting the gods. Yep, she has to find the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) in order to set things right. 

     It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a Disney princess movie where so many elements just fell perfectly into place. The humor, the animation, everything. Moana is a technical marvel to behold. The fact that while CGI animation is pretty much the standard nowadays, but the filmmakers also use traditional hand drawn animation as well (in particular Maui’s tattoos) just floored me. On that level, the movie needs to be studied in film courses. 

     I am fully aware that pretty pictures do not a good movie make; Moana herself as a character is such a revelation. It wasn’t until the end that it dawned on me that she has no love interest at all. Let that sink in…

     A Disney princess without a love interest. 

     All she gives a shit about is saving her home and her people. That’s all. This is so different from any other Disney princess movie. To break away from an almost hundred year formula just makes me question existence itself. Believe me folks, this is not the norm. 

     God knows when was the last time I had a shit eating grin throughout an entire Disney movie. The lush colors, the strong characters (HeiHei is my spirit animal), just the exuberant joy that seeps through every frame, every song, is something that is sorely lacking in not just family fare, but films in general. 

Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016) Review

     The Rocky Horror Picture Show exists as a bit of an oddity; it started off as a stage show, made its way to the movies, and bombed horribly at the box office. It was thanks to the growing trend of Midnight Movies that breathed new life into the film, and much like the title character, it started to take on a life of its own. 

     This new version produced for television, just further cements the fact that some shit is just a product of its time; it was just a series of shit situations that ultimately lead to it being this insane cult phenomenon. You cannot replicate that kind of success, no matter how many virgin sacrifices you make. 

     On a dark and stormy night, Janet (Victoria Justice) and Brad (Ryan McCartan) seek shelter in a strange mansion run by the mad scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Laverne Cox) where along with help from Riff Raft (Reeve Carney), and Magenta (Christina Milian) to create the ultimate specimen, Rocky Horror (Staz Nair). 

     I’ve made it no secret that no matter how many times I’ve watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show I still think it sucks. The music is catchy, and the original film performers really put their all into it, and that’s when it creates an odd charm that has endured for over four decades. 

     But Jesus Christ, this time felt like someone cashed in a fucking favor. 

     What it cames down to was the fact that all the actors, except Tim Curry in a cameo, played the script for laughs. I shit you not, I was waiting for just one actor to look at the camera and wink. I’m pretty forgiving towards actors, I’ll admit, but God damn it there’s no fucking excuse for blatant over acting and passing it off as comedy. I get this story is outlandish as fuck, but the joy is seeing the actors have fun, not like they’re being blackmailed by a producer. 

     In an interview I saw with the original director in a midnight movie documentary, he stated that he and the crew thought they were making a good movie with broad audience appeal, and that right there is why this new version is a waste of fucking time. Everyone seems to be in on the joke this time, and that comes off as condescending. A bad movie doesn’t know it’s a bad movie,but when it acts like one, you just want to punch it in the face. 

     Seriously, the original is a product of its time, and while I find it boring, it at least has its joy and originality to make it interesting. 

     Fuck this new version.