Sunday, December 14, 2014

Beastly (live action movie), on DVD

Beastly is a modernized retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story and is based on Alex Flinn's book. I haven't read the book, and this movie may have killed my desire to do so. Of course, The Last Airbender had a similar effect on me, and the cartoon turned out to be fabulous, so you never know. Anyway, this movie did not work for me.

Warning: this post includes major spoilers.

Kyle, Lindy, and Kendra are three students at a private high school. Kyle is an unrepentant, arrogant, vain jerk. Kendra is supposed to be an unpopular goth, I guess – she looks like she just left a high fashion runway, which we are repeatedly told means she's ugly. Lindy is a scholarship student. It's immediately apparent that she has at least a small crush on Kyle, although it's hard to see why.

Kyle plays a trick on Kendra that's designed to publicly humiliate her. She curses him, which soon leads to him going bald and developing facial scars and tattoos. Horrified by his own sudden ugliness, he retreats to his home. His father, who, like him, prizes good looks over all else, takes him to plastic surgeons and eventually has him exiled to a separate home, with only their Jamaican housekeeper and a blind tutor for company. Kendra tells him that he has one year to find someone who will love him. The one person he's repeatedly drawn to is Lindy, who no longer recognizes him as Kyle. He eventually arranges to have her live in his home and gives her all the gifts he can think of, but none of that may be enough to win her love.

Ugh, this movie. I got it because Beauty and the Beast retellings attract me. Over the years, however, I've found that I tend to prefer these retellings the most when the “Beast” doesn't change back in the end. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when the guy's reward for finally acting like a decent human being is the stereotypical beautiful appearance that wasn't what the heroine originally fell in love with. Plus, it leaves me wondering whether the “Beast” will eventually revert back to his old self.

In both the original ending and the alternate ending, Kyle gets his original appearance back. The way it was handled wasn't great, and it didn't help that I wasn't 100% convinced he was a better person.

At the beginning of the movie, he was awful. Terrible enough that he should have repulsed everyone around him, except most of them were pretty awful themselves. I hated the high school and its slick, corporate feel. The fact that Lindy was at all interested in Kyle and wanted to go to that school in the first place lowered my opinion of her.

In one of the extras, the book's author mentioned that she wanted to show how the things a person unthinkingly does in one moment could have huge and lasting consequences. But what about repeated actions over the course of years? It's not like Kyle was a horrible person just during that one moment with Kendra. He'd been awful for years. He should already have used up his second chances with most of the people in the movie. The one that bothered me the most was his housekeeper (Zola?). After the way he'd treated her, he should have at least had to work to win her over. Instead, she acted all motherly and helpful right when he needed her to. Seriously? When Kyle asked her for advice after expensive gifts didn't win Lindy over, she told him “What do you know about her? Think.” Not, “OMG, she's being kept prisoner in your home, she assumes you're a potentially creepy stranger, and you think gifts are going to make it all better?”

Alex Pettyfer (Kyle) and Vanessa Hudgens (Lindy) didn't have the best chemistry, and some of their interactions looked painfully awkward and forced. Kyle's idea to write a longhand letter to Lindy was nice, if a bit mushy and over-the-top (I can't believe she read that entire hundred-page monster). However, the rest of his “getting to know Lindy better and impress her” moments weren't all that stellar. Literally the only thing he knew about her, at first, was what kind of candy she liked, and he only knew that because he'd spent some time stalking her. His decision to take the time to build her a greenhouse was nice, but he only knew she liked roses because she said so on her Facebook-like social media profile. I'd have preferred seeing him learn more about her via actual conversation. I was glad when Kyle's tutor refused his demands for cheats to help him look smarter to Lindy during a tutoring session.

The ending was unsatisfying and too easy. I get that Lindy was supposed to be a warm and accepting person, but even the nicest person would have been shocked at Kyle's sudden transformation and outraged that he'd never told her the truth. The stuff involving Kyle's tutor and his housekeeper bugged me, because he'd never actually asked them what they really wanted. Maybe Zola would have preferred to go back to Jamaica rather than have her children come to her? Maybe Will, Kyle's tutor, was actually okay with being blind and had something he'd have liked more? Yes, they seemed happy with the rewards they got, but I'd have preferred it if Kyle had talked to them first.

Extras:

There are five extras: an alternate ending, a few deleted scenes, a documentary, a “making of” documentary on Alex Pettyfer's “Beast” makeup, and a music video.

The alternate ending managed to be slightly more awful than the original ending. Although Lindy's reaction to Kyle's transformation was somewhat more believable, everything was cheesier and more melodramatic. There was a CGI crystal tear, for goodness' sake.

The deleted scenes were deleted for a reason. They were pretty meh.

The documentary, “A Classic Tale Retold: The Story of Beastly,” would be nice for those who'd like to see the actors, director, and original author talking about the movie. “Creating the Perfect Beast,” which dealt with Pettyfer's makeup, was much more interesting to me, although I cringed at the director's explanations of their choices of “ugly” characteristics. Teens care about hair and skin, so Kyle got to be bald and scarred, and a kid from a rich family would be horrified by tattoos (according to the director, anyway). Those three things together were therefore supposed to equal “OMG, so ugly!” And how shocking that Pettyfer was willing to shave his head for the role. ::eyeroll::

The music video for “Be Mine” by Kristina & the Dolls didn't really interest me, because I wasn't a fan of the song.

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