Hey fellow Geeks!
While I’m going through some changes for the blog, I wanted to make sure that I completed this review before it passed me by. I promised a Part 2 for this review and this film definitely deserves it! Part 1 was more of a hype post, so it’s not necessary to read before this if you were wondering…
There will be spoilers in this review!
Tale as Old as Time…
This story is so magical to me, and the live-action adaptation of the 1991 animated Disney feature was absolutely breathtaking. As stated in Part 1, Beauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney “Princess” film. Belle was someone I looked up to and someone who I found a connection with, as I think many did. Her love for reading and stories and her strong determination in what she believed was aspiring, and Emma Watson did a beautiful job showing that on film. Emma’s version of Belle seems even stronger than the animated version (voiced by Paige O’Hara) by way of being a more active reader than a passive reader.
What I mean by this is that the Belle in the animated feature loved to read and this is the factor that seemed to separate her from the village, but in this adaptation, Belle’s isolation is discussed in more depth and one aspect is how much she reads and then what she wants to do with this knowledge. Belle has become the inventor (Belle invents a washing machine!!) in the film while her father Maurice is now a merchant, which is what I believe he was in some versions of the fairy tale.
I was a fan of Emma Watson playing Belle when she was announced, and after seeing the film, my admiration for Emma Watson has just grown. Another actor I was very pleased with was Dan Stevens as the Beast. Before this film, I knew his name from my friend who is a huge fan of Downton Abbey (and has now gotten me hooked!). The way he portrayed the beast is fantastic. There is a connection between him and Belle that was really kind of lacking in the animated version. They actually talk with each other and their interest stems from the Shakespeare and the library which Beast gifts to Belle!!!!
There is a really cute line dealing with Romeo and Juliet which immediately gives the Beast a more boyish feel and it was hilarious. It’s an interesting way to both show a new blooming romance as well as give some background into the Beast’s education (as the Prince). This “expensive education” which was missing in the animated feature.
Also, Dan Stevens absolutely killed it with the Beast’s ballad, Evermore. It is one of three new songs in this film and it is so beautiful. I can’t get it out of my head… After my first viewing of the film, I went and bought the soundtrack!
I’m was very happy with the casting overall really, except Ian McKellen as Cogsworth.
Now, Ian McKellen as an actor was hilarious when Cogsworth becomes human again, as well as during the fight scene, but I felt he wasn’t as strong a character as his animated counterpart. There was something lacking in the companionship between Cogsworth and Lumiere in this film, and I thought Ewan McGregor did a pretty nice job. I think it was more the writing that caused Cogsworth to fall for me rather than Ian McKellen’s acting. (The man is a legend!)
Another character that didn’t sit right with me was Lefou, played wonderfully by Josh Gad. I felt like this was another example of the writing failing the character, rather than the actor failing the character. At the beginning of the film, all the way up to the song Gaston, Lefou was such a funny character.
I also really like the concept that, compared to the animated feature, Gaston is not necessarily considered a really popular guy. Lefou has to pay people to bolster Gaston’s image by joining in the singing of Gaston. It’s adds more depth to the meaning of the song, and it portrays Gaston in a different light. He is still charismatic in ways, but he is way more self-absorbed and his more forceful than cunning.
Lefou was so entertaining to watch, but as the film progressed, it seemed like the character was kicked to the side and his character development became confused. Were we supposed to feel bad for him? Are we supposed to believe he would change that quickly? It didn’t feel right, but Josh Gad’s performance was overall still entertaining.
Visually, this film is gorgeous. Really stunning.
I mean… just look at this “dashing, debonair smile!”
Being honest, I thought the Beast wasn’t that bad. There were of course moments when the he felt too CGI, but his look grew on me. I mean, the entire concept of this story revolves around “inner beauty” and this beast still isn’t terrifying!
Other than the Beast, the costumes, lighting, and colors were wonderful. The scene where Belle sings Belle (Reprise), she is surrounded by vivid green grass and bright yellow flowers. The setting sun’s glow is highlighting everything… it’s so pretty!
Some of the musical scenes really get you with the costumes, color, and lighting. One, of course, is during the Beauty and the Beast dance.
The other moment that really hit me was during Be our Guest.
The heart of the story is still here!
It’s not a complete replica, but it’s pretty faithful. The new additions were strong and added depth to an already strong film. I believe a lot of this film was successful due to how faithful it was to the animated feature. As Cogsworth said:
Beauty and the Beast is a story that will forever be my favorite. The moral of the tale and the characters were really moving to me as a child and are still powerful for me now as an adult. This new adaptation matures the story and gives more depth to the curse. It’s something that children and adults can appreciate, but there are some downfalls. There is no such thing as a perfect movie, but I’m still in love with this film.
If I were to rate it, I’d probably give it an 8 or 8.5/10. Some of the characters felt flat when comparing them to their animated counterparts. The writing for Cogsworth and the direction of Lefou felt confused, and of all the songs, Gaston was probably my least favorite. Josh Gad did a fabulous job, and it’s still catchy, but the song alone just doesn’t hit me as the original did. But, the majority of the soundtrack is fantastic, and I highly recommend giving it a listen to, or getting it yourself.
This is definitely a classic tale as old as time for me and I love it!
Until next time – Later!
P.S. – I may not be posting with a strict schedule, but I hope to keep something going. My hiatus will probably be more like me figuring out where I might want this blog to go and any changes I want to make. After seeing this film though, and promising a Part 2 last year, I wanted to get this out there! Thanks!!