What do you get when you take the classic tale of 'Beauty and the Beast,' strip it of every meaningful aspect, rip away its romance and sincerity, and replace it with loathsome actors and a teeny-bopper-inspired tale? The answer: 'Beastly'.
'Beastly' is so obtuse that it's simply incredible to watch. In order to drill home the point that Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) is a human being to be hated, the script calls for him to explain how much he hates ugly people in his opening monologue for a student council position. Kyle gets up in front of his schoolmates and starts berating them for having "pizza face[s]." Yeah, he's a real peach. This is apparently the only way director/writer Daniel Barnz can let us in on the fact that Kyle is a giant douche. Imagine a movie that wanted to make sure you know that the villain is definitely evil so it showed him killing hordes of kittens while laughing maniacally. That's about the equivalent of the opening scene of 'Beastly'.
So now we've established that Kyle is a contemptible person. He hates ugly people and thinks that his looks are gifted to him from on high. His dad is rich. He lives in the lap of luxury. Kyle's untouchable, or so he thinks…
'Beastly' doesn't have a lot going for it, but it's casting of Mary-Kate Olsen as a gothified wicked witch is perhaps one of the best/most hilarious casting decisions in recent memory. Known only as Kendra, the gothic-looking witch walks around in black high heels and long trench coats. After Kyle's douche-tastic speech in front of the student body, Kendra curses him with ugliness on the outside equal to that on the inside.
Then poof, Kyle is magically changed into a man who looks like he lost a vicious battle with a rage-filled tattoo needle. Gouges appear on his face reminiscent of having his head put in a wood-chipper. When he shows his dad the next day, and during his subsequent doctor's visits, no one seems to question why he all of a sudden has a plethora of odd tattoos. They simply say, "Well, he's as healthy as he's ever been, so…" That's about the extent of the intelligence displayed in 'Beastly.'
As for the story, just like any other 'Beauty and the Beast' tale, Kyle has one year to find someone to fall in love with his ugly self and then all will be right with the world. If he doesn't, he'll be stuck as a Inked Magazine reject for life.
Kyle's father, a famous (and ridiculously good-looking) local news anchor, hides him away from the public eye. He hires a tutor for him. Of course the tutor is blind. Wouldn't want any of those normal people out there getting a glimpse of Mr. Ugly. The tutor is played by Neil Patrick Harris, an actor who has been riding a wave of good-will for quite a few years now. I can't imagine why he'd do a movie like this, especially when he's so underused. They should have cast him as Kyle, then just maybe this movie would've been worth watching.
The ugliness of Kyle's tattooed face is no match for the repulsiveness that is 'Beastly'. It's almost as if the CW decided it was high time someone made a hip version of 'Beauty and the Beast,' then fell so in love with the pilot that they said, "Release it in theaters!" It's so bland and lifeless I can't see why anyone would even give it a second thought. Let's just leave Kyle alone. Let him stew in his manmade prison of loneliness. There's no reason we should pay him, or this movie, any attention.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Sony has seen fit to house 'Beastly' on a BD-25 Blu-ray Disc. It comes in a standard Blu-ray case. The case indicates that 'Beastly' is only coded for region A use, but the other regions haven't been tested for this review.
For the handful of people who actually like this movie (you know who you are) you'll be pleasantly surprised with its nice, rather filmic presentation. Framed in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 'Beastly' has a clean digital transfer resulting in a detailed image that most everyone who watches it will have a hard time finding fault with.
Colors are replicated well, from the dark reds of Kyle's tattooed roses, to the greens, browns, and yellows of the greenhouse he constructs later on in the film. Blacks suffer somewhat as they never approach the inkiness of demo material. Shadows seem to hide detail at times instead of accentuating it.
Fine detail, in well-lit scenes, is near perfection though. The tiny thorny vines of Kyle's tattoo are always visible. Skintones are kept natural looking, even during overly-stylized scenes. Fine hairs and pores are routinely visible in revealing closeups. Overall, the movie may be ugly but it's presentation certainly isn't.
'Beastly' is a talkative melodrama that never really engages its viewers in an all-encompassing audio presentation. That said, this is a serviceable mix that won't anger fans.
Dialogue is presented clearly through the front and center channels. Ambient sound works nicely during party scenes, but at times the surrounds become overbearing and drown out some of the upfront action. LFE is pretty light, except when the cursing of Kyle takes place. There's not much need for low-end theatrics here, but when they're called upon they deliver a satisfying boom here and there.
'Beastly's audio mix isn't overly impressive by any means. It lays smack-dab in the middle of the road as far as high-def audio goes. You could do worse for a dramatic feature, but you could also do better.
'Beastly' is, at times, hilarious, and at other times as ugly as its main character. It's just so insipid and one-dimensional that it's impossible to take seriously. All the romance of the classic tale has been eradicated and replaced with pretty twenty-somethings and emo-rock music. Perhaps the saddest thing about the movie is that not even Neil Patrick Harris can make it watchable. The audio and video are nice, the supplements meager. In the end 'Beastly' deserves to be locked away in a tower never to see the light of day again.