21 April 2011
The Beast in this case is Kyle Kingson, an infuriatingly obnoxious little scrote who's supposed to have gotten the position of Green Party President at high school by sheer attractiveness. This provokes the wrath of conveniently placed Goth-y witch-type Kendra, and she curses Kyle with a spell that uglies him up. If he can't break the spell in a year, he'll look that way forever, and his only hope is the love of troubled teen Lindy.
On balance, it's not quite as shallow as it sounds. Except for the character of Kyle, who is exactly as shallow as he sounds, making him very difficult to root for him. Don't forget that Alex Pettyfer, lately of sci-fi Twilight surrogate I Am Number Four, is not the best of actors. The idea he could get elected to any role through his charisma is laughable, cos there's really none of it to be had. Wisely, the film soon buries him under some ugly make-up, which almost serves as a prosthesis for him to act properly.
Pettyfer isn't the only one who struggles, mind. You see Neil Patrick Harris floundering here as the comic relief, despite the fact there's nothing wrong with his delivery- just the dialogue he's given. The script, written by director Daniel Barnz, is pretty puny. There's no new ground to be broken by another film in the Twilight mold, and despite how recently Stephanie Meyer's books came around, it feels like we've had hundreds of them already. The weird thing is how much the film has to stretch itself to update the fairytale to a modern high school setting. Even Red Riding Hood had similar problems in a period setting, and arguably, Beastly has more work to do.
This eventually works itself into a substantial plothole, but one that you're not supposed to look too deeply into because it's just a fluffy teen romance. I'm all for films that appeal to an under-served demographic, but this one still feels slack, and somehow rushed. That's especially weird because of how the film was pushed back from last summer to avoid clashing with Zac Efron's Charlie St. Cloud. You know what though, it was still more enjoyable than Twilight.
Yeah, there are more unintentional laughs in Twilight, but there are also a metric fuckton of things that are wrong with the story and characters, particularly the character of baked potato-brained reader surrogate Bella Swan. Aside from a general sense of moneyed superficiality about Kyle that lasts all the way through his learning curve, there's little in this film that could either piss me off or send a bad message to the target audience. And it didn't leave me totally indifferent either- I doubt I'll remember it come the end of the year, but it's pretty harmless and pacifying. It could have gone darker and been a better film, but then it would cease to serve its purpose.
Beastly is released in cinemas nationwide tomorrow.
If you've seen Beastly, why not share your comments below?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.