BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Bill Condon, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Beauty and the Beast:

1. Similar to A Second Chance, this live action remake of the classic Disney movie was completely harmless and unnecessary. Lower your pitchforks (or eyebrows), please. Inasmuch as I’m sure you would want to launch into your own glorious rendition of Kill the Beast right about now, hear me out first.

The movie was satisfactory. The cast was mostly fine. The new songs were generally okay (although a tad forgettable). Bring your kids (or your inner kid at heart) and wallow in the amazing feeling of nostalgia.

Just never forget that you’re watching a film directed by the same person that most recently gave us The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Parts 1 and 2. (Fade to black.)

2. I never expected a shot-by-shot remake of the cartoon, but I also didn’t see the need for forty additional minutes of filler to explain the stories behind the Prince’s bad behaviour, Belle’s dead mother, and the Enchantress’ double life in the village, among others. You could immediately feel the difference as soon as this one started with the stained glass sequence in the original losing its storybook effect by having the Prince in full Black Swan make-up partying like Lindsay Lohan on a Friday night.

Even with all the back stories, it still wasn’t able to justify why the poor servants had to be included in the curse (and no Mrs. Potts, indirect negligence of an abused child was not reason enough for such a cruel punishment). I did like the explanation on why nobody really bothered checking on the castle post-curse and that was achieved through one line of narration.

3. If anything, this version posed even more questions:

• Given these recent historical revisionisms regarding inventors (read up on Bell vs Meucci haller!), should we assume that Belle actually created the first washing machine? Also, whatever happened to those bedsheets that she tied up for her planned escape?

• Who was that toothless piano (played by Stanley Tucci)? Was he part of the Broadway production (I swear I couldn’t remember that character in the cartoon)? Also, why wasn’t Mrs. Potts talking out of her spout? She ended up looking more inanimate here.

• If her mother really loved roses, then why was she even named Belle? Why not Rose or Rosita or Rosa? (So happy my mom was never fond of champaka.)

• Speaking of, when she brought back that rose heirloom and gave it to Maurice, wouldn’t that make him patient zero for another bubonic plague/outbreak?

4. Sorry bashers, but Emma Watson actually had a decent singing voice (regardless of Auto-Tune). My concern though was that she still acted very much like Hermione in a grand Hogwarts production of Beauty and the Beast. I even had lots of fun imitating her very British accent in provincial France (“Puh-paww!!”, “That’s ab-suhd!”).

The bigger surprise here was Luke Evans, a perfect casting choice for Gaston (no one even falls like Gaston!). I loved every moment he had with LeFou (played by Josh Gad, who should be in every Disney movie moving forward).

5. Poll question of the day: Did you like Dan Stevens as the Beast? Or more accurately, was he the Prince that you were expecting? Some people (cough, cough) wanted to kill me for laughing during the big reveal post-Beast transformation. My reaction was more of “Ehh” and I wanted it to be more of “Huwow!”. It certainly was no Devon Sawa moment in Casper.

I could understand Dan’s charms in a Benedict Cumberbatch way, but I really expected someone conventionally great-looking. Given the extensive use of motion capture in his Beast performance, he could have been replaced by Andy Serkis (yup, Gollum) and they could have gotten someone physically resembling Prince Charming.

6. When Belle ran up the hill and the camera started swirling around her, did the Sound of Music theme play in your head as well?

7. One of my favorite lines in the movie was from Plumette: “I grew three more feathers and I just plucked yesterday.” Story of my life right there.

8. Where was the openly gay character in the movie? A couple of people asked me if this was appropriate for kids, especially since the issue had been blown out of proportion. Fear not parents, there was no gay kissing or gay sex scene (this was still a Disney film after all).

Actually, there wasn’t even any mention of a character being out and proud. If anything, this should open up a whole new discussion on how Disney’s milking the gay uproar (vis a vis them proudly proclaiming the inclusion of a gay character) when there was none to begin with.

Everything pertaining to homosexuality was actually played for laughs (even that controversial blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dance). That was even more disappointing than the states and countries that banned the movie. Where was the hyped progressivism, Disney?

9. Be Our Guest was my favorite sequence in the original and it felt a bit messy here (even more distracting in 3D/4DX with the constant seat movements and excessive flashing lights). The iconic dance scene was fine (hearing the wonderful theme did give me serious goosebumps) and I kinda liked the yellow dress even if it resembled the Halloween version being sold in Toy Kingdom. But why did they have to remove the romantic dinner? I also missed the swoon-worthy scenes of her blatantly teaching him how to dance and putting her head on his hairy chest. All we got here were those excessive shots of low-hanging chandeliers. Hay.

10. This movie still begged that age-old question though: Is it superficial if a woman falls for a man with a huge, uhm, library?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (Roland Emmerich, 2016)

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My notes on Independence Day: Resurgence:

1. Similar to a Michael Bay classic, I would always watch a Roland Emmerich movie with below zero expectations and so I entered the theater armed with a tub of popcorn and a large Pepsi ready for some mindless alien action and global destruction. Hey, this was the director who was fond of destroying national landmarks and gave us disaster (literally and figuratively) flicks such as the first Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012. How bad could this sequel be, right?

Well, Emmerich just took a dump in Hollywood, flung his excrements onscreen, and it resulted to this stinker that just cost me two hours of my precious life. Will Smith made the best decision of his career by not being involved with this dud.

2. One would think that twenty years after the original, the visual effects here would be mind-blowing. Unfortunately, they looked even worse than those used in the 1999 bomb Wing Commander (which reminded me, what ever happened to Freddie Prinze, Jr.?). Heck, even the ones in the original 1977 Star Wars were better. What was left to watch?

3. I first liked Bill Pullman back in his matinee idol days when he stole his brother-in-a-coma’s girlfriend Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping. Most of my female friends fell in love with him though as Christina Ricci’s father in Casper (and no, I wasn’t saying they had daddy issues). Seeing him now all wrinkled up with gray hair made me feel really old (although I think those female friends would now call him a DILF).

4. The lame attempts at humor were so bad that I was audibly groaning in my seat, although I (unintentionally) laughed out loud whenever the Asian commander gave the scientific names of different species. I could actually picture Kuya Kim saying things like, “At ang tawag sa alien na ito ay alienatus chararata hango sa salitang chararat na ang ibig sabihin ay panget na alien.”

5. I knew I was watching something terrible because:

• New characters were introduced an hour into the movie (more fillers, more fun!).

• My favorite scene was when Vivica A. Fox promised her son that she was not going to die and then plunged to her fiery death a few minutes later (what spoiler alert? I just saved you time and money).

• The end credits listed five screenwriters and they couldn’t even give one decent line to indie darling Charlotte Gainsbourg.

• I cared more about the dog’s safety over a bus full of human characters.

6. So wait, it took twenty years of planning on the aliens’ side and they still could not come up with a decent strategy to take over the world and prevent Liam Hemsworth from peeing before them? Well with that sneak peek, at least one of them died happy.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆