Beastly

11 Apr

Title: Beastly
Year:
2011
Director:
Daniel Barnz
Writer: Daniel Barnz, based on the novel by Alex Flinn
Starring:
Vanessa Hudgens, Alex Pettyfer, Mary-Kate Olsen, Neil Patrick Harris, Peter Krause, Dakota Johnson, Regina King
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, language including crude comments, brief violence and some thematic material
Runtime:
86 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
4.9
Rotten Tomatoes:
19%

 

I’ve reviewed all four past films that came out of the CBS Films production company, and at the start of every one of those reviews I stated that the company’s films were getting better and better with each outing. Their first one, Extraordinary Measures, was an utter disaster and while their second one, The Back-Up Plan, was still pretty hideous I didn’t find it to be as bad. Their third one, Faster, was pretty close to decent, but not quite there yet and their fourth, this year’s The Mechanic, was the first time they did something that was worth watching.

So here I was approaching Beastly, hoping it would keep their streak alive and be the best one yet, which wouldn’t be so hard considering The Mechanic was a B- to me. But alas, that wasn’t to be and the production company went back quite a few steps, as Beastly really does fail to live up to its timeless source material, which is, of course, The Beauty and the Beast. This one’s just badly scripted and badly acted, which sucks considering I hate it when Neil Patrick Harris is in something I don’t like, even though he was by far the best part about this whole affair.

This one is obviously aimed at the Twilight set, trying to cash in the young teens who won’t see the vampire franchise return until November. And while the cast is attractive enough, it just doesn’t cut it. Vanessa Hudgens, she from those High School Musical adventures, stars in the Belle role, the girl who’ll fall in love with the guy who turns into beast for his personality and not his looks. And let’s just say that Ms. Hudgens doesn’t have an ounce of the talent Kristen Stewart possesses, even in the Twilight films in which she’s not as great as she can be, so she’s not going to get teens to get her to be their new Bella Swan.

Not to mention that the ‘beast’ in this film is just a kid who gets these weird sort of scars and tattoos that look strange, that’s for sure, but definitely not beaastly. And that guy is played by Alex Pettyfer, who joined the cast after the producers released a statement saying they were looking for a young actor in the vein of Robert Pattinson, so it’s not like they were trying to hide who they wanted to get into the theaters to see their film.

Now, as for Mr. Pettyfer I will say this much, I haven’t seen him act well yet, but it’s not like Mr. Pattinson himself acts all that well in the Twilight films (though he has been quite good in a few other ones), so I can forgive him that. And the guy looks good and can definitely carry a film, like I saw and reviewed only a few days ago in the far superior I Am Number Four, but in here he just fails to do his role any justice, and whether that’s his fault or that of the bad script I can’t say.

I doubt all that many lovers of the Twilight films, which have been quite decent and have been getting better and better, will love Beastly. And that’s mostly because this one fails at its most essential quality: being a good love story. Which is twice as bad considering the material it’s based is so damn good. And I don’t know exactly why it fails so badly to really get things going nicely, but I guess I’ll blame it partly to the casting of Ms. Hudgens. I mean, we need to get the idea that she’s the outcast at her school, but really she looks just as cute and into the school as the rest of them, she doesn’t really sell her part, no matter how much they make it try to look as though she’s some sort of faux-bohemienne that really doesn’t work at all.

I respect Beastly in that it honestly tried to faithfully transmit the Beauty and the Beast story into a modern setting, cellphones and Google all included, but their attempts aren’t executed well. Hell, for the most part they’re not even executed at all, every character seems completely one-dimensional, even the cinematography in this one feels totally stale, and what we get as a result is something that I doubt anyone will love.

I’d honestly advice you to skip Beastly. This is a film that has no connection to its human side whatsoever, and while I would consider giving this one a (barely) passing grade because of Neil Patrick Harris, who as a blind tutor gives this sort of sarcastic and lively performance, as though he was making fun of how bad the film he was shooting was, but not even him will keep me from failing this one.

Grade: D+

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