Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Beastly

So this year Alex Flinn's modern adaptation of Beauty and the Beast was turned into a film starring Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgeons.

It's... average. I mean, the book isn't pure genius, but the way they've done the film, the book is a lot better.

Genetically beautiful but a total bastard, Kyle manages to get on the wrong side of a "funkistein" looking witch. She tells him that she has a year to find someone to love him for who he is, or he'll ''stay like this forever'' - turns out that he's been stripped of all bodily hair and given deformed skin (of sorts) and weird tattoo-like veins and stuff. He's not exactly good looking, but you know, if you were into that sort of thing it'd be ok.
After being abandoned in his own apartment by his equally - if not more - shallow father, Kyle spends about 5 months moping, with the company of only his blind tutor and the family house keeper. When by chance he saves a girl from his school and her father, she has to come and live with him indefinitely in return.

So you see how it is Beauty and the Beast. Just, you know, it's set in New  York and they went to a rich-person's high school where popularity and looks are everything.
As the casting stands, Alex Pettyfer is certainly good looking enough to be Kyle. But there's not really enough character development for it to be Pettyfer's role specifically - it could be anyone with a pretty face and an adonis body, frankly. And Vanessa Hudgeons is cute, I guess, but again, we don't see anything of the book's character in the film, so she's once again a generic character. Mary-Kate Olsen is the only character that looks-wise was at least interesting.

Here's where it falls down as a film:

  • He has just one year - in the book, he has 3. There is far more character development that way, and with the film only being 1 and a half hours, they could have stood to add more to the plot line.
  • Vanessa Hudgeons's on screen father does not beg Kyle to let him go and that he'd do anything, give him anything including his daughter - Kyle makes the suggestion, which somehow didn't feel right. Especially since he goes on about protecting her: she can look after herself, dammit. It's a lousy excuse. If it's because her father's a total douche bag, it lets Kyle (and the film) off the hook with the misogyny.
  • The way that he looks, the film would be just as happy an ending had she failed to make the deadline of falling in love with him and he really DID stay that way forever. In the book, he is an actual human-beast. He's hairy, has claws and a snout. Bestiality isn't good. But loving a dude with weirdass tattoos and mild deformities is a positive message, and needn't require the spell to be undone. The least they could have done was perhaps phase out some of the tats so that he's left with more of a reminder - it'd probably be the way she saw him anyway.
  • The role of the witch is vastly downplayed. In the book, she talks to Kyle using the magic mirror. In the film, they've dispensed with the mirror and included the previously excluded flower timer - though I have to say, I liked what they did with the changing tattoo, counting down the year. The only way they make up for her relatively helpfulness as a character is by showing that she is going to work her magic on Kyle's grotesque father.
For teens and children, I guess the film is ok. I don't envisage it ever getting more than a 3 star rating though. In fact, just googling for a picture, Rotten Tomatoes has given it an average rating of 1 star.

Considering the book is good enough to be converted to a screenplay, this film is really quite a drop in quality.

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