Beauty and the Beast (2017)8:55 PM
Experience the Tale as Old as Time.
This review contains Spoilers
Beauty and the Beast is directed by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2) and stars Emma Watson (Harry Potter, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Dan Stevens (The Guest, Legion), Luke Evans (Dracula Untold, Fast & Furious 6), Josh Gad (Frozen, The Wedding Ringer), Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda, Cry Freedom), Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Star Wars: Episode 2), Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings, Mr Holmes) and Emma Thompson (Nanny McPhee, Love Actually). "An adaptation of the Disney fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love". My most anticipated film of the year and most of the world - is it even possible for this to live up to the hype?
I was so ready to be let down by this film - it happened with my most anticipated flick of 2016 - Suicide Squad but I am proud to announce that Beauty and the Beast met all of my expectations and was pure brilliance. It's really hard to find anything to dislike about this film - it definitely does the beloved source material justice and I am happy for this to be the rendition of the tale for a new generation. Prepare for quite a lengthy review as this is (so far) my favourite film of the year and I have a lot to say about it...
Let us begin with the musical numbers - Beauty and the Beast has many famous songs and musical sequences that everybody knows and this 2017 version does them all justice. I'm going to rank the musical number from my favourite to least favourite (because there's no such thing as worst in this film).
- Beauty and the Beast - this sequence was the one I was most anticipating - it is an iconic moment in animation history and I couldn't wait to see how they transferred it to live action and well, simply put, it was beautiful. I thought Emma Thompson did a brilliant job of performing the song and the choreography was brilliant. The sequence was as spellbinding as I wanted it to be and I had goosebumps the whole time.
- Something There - This song completely caught me off-guard. However, I really did feel the love blossom between the two characters. It was simply charming.
- Days in the Sun - I think this song is actually quite timely - for many, present day is a dark period and they are looking back to the days in the sun and wishing they were here. The song also fits in with the narrative and actually creates a darker undertone and adds depth.
- How Does a Moment Last Forever - This is probably the song I'm most likely to listen to on repeat as I relate to the words, especially the version Emma Watson sings. I thought the scene was well done and was new to the story - it was necessary depth but once again dark.
- Gaston - Another incredibly well choreographed sequence that got better and better as it went on. It was humourous and just full of energy, This one actually caught me off guard because it isn't really one I usually care about but I really enjoyed every second of it.
- Be Our Guest - This is probably the only sequence that didn't really have a patch on the original. Whilst it was still good, I just think it was lacking some energy - I think it's the modern version of the song over anything else. The visuals were still pretty amazing and pleasing to the eye - colourful and fun.
- Belle - I actually like this a lot more than you'd think by its position on my list. I only put it this low because there is one word that is so heavily auto-tuned, I won't be able to listen to it or watch that part of the film in the same way. When Watson sings 'people' - it just sounds like a robot. However, the actual sequence is fun. I think what doesn't help is it's quite a broken up sequence but I definitely did enjoy it.
- Evermore - This song is new but kind of forgettable. The words fit well with the narrative but I didn't find the visuals that exciting or captivating.
- The Mob Song - This song is probably the most forgettable though, I would struggle to sing it to you now and I saw the film less than an hour ago. However, this was definitely the darkest song in terms of visuals - this is when Gaston leads his men to kill the Beast and it definitely feels very dark and violent.
So the music sequences are brilliant in terms of both the melodies and the visuals of what is going on on-screen. Now, to the characters. Belle has been revived as a character and I think this version is more interesting, more likeable and more developed - she could even be seen as separate to the animated version as she has many different qualities. Belle is empowered and strong - she challenges the Beast, she tries to escape, she's always one step ahead and she's a great role model. Emma Watson is the perfect Belle - not only does she visually suit the character but I couldn't think of anyone better to play her. I think it's good that Watson has such strong feminist values as she brought some progressive elements to the character and film as a whole which were definitely needed. Watson isn't the strongest singer but other than one moment, I thought she was fine and I would happily listen to her songs on repeat. I actually empathised with the character of Belle - when she asked her father if she was odd and when she found out what happened to her mother are just some examples. Belle is not a damsel in distress - she is actually where I think female representations should ideally be - she isn't a Mary Sue but she isn't helpless - she's right in the middle or in other words, realistic. Oh and I firmly believe this will now be Emma Watson's career defining role, she is that good and suited to the role.
The Beast is one character I had precautions about going in - I was never completely sold on how he visually looked. However, I don't know whether they hadn't of completely finished but I thought the Beast looked perfectly fine. I was actually impressed - when he was interacting with Belle, it didn't look real. I was also convinced that a CGI character was able to fall in love with a human so credit should be given to Watson and Stevens for their thoroughly convincing performances. Dan Stevens does an excellent job as the Beast - the character arc is evident and I thought he had a pretty strong singing voice. The film also adds some needed development to the character - we find out that the Beast is pretty arrogant and horrible because of his father but we also find he had a pretty traumatic childhood with the death of his mother - something him and Belle have in common. I have no complaints in regard to the Beast and that is something I am surprised to say.
Gaston is probably the most different character as he is less humourous but more evil - he definitely still is very arrogant though. Luke Evans does a great job as the character and definitely have some scene-stealing moments. However, Gaston is undoubtedly outshone by LeFou played by Josh Gad. Gad is brilliant - he is hilarious, energetic and just very likeable. He has a good singing voice too. However, what we have to talk about here is how LeFou is now part of the LGBQ+ community and I think that is brilliant and so progressive. I don't understand why it has caused so much controversy!? When LeFou dances with a fellow man at the end, it just felt right - what I liked is that it wasn't shoehorned in and wasn't done tastelessly - it was handled sensitively and tastefully. A step in the right direction for representation in Hollywood.
Maurice gets his own section - yes, you read that correctly. Maurice's role is actually increased quite a bit in this film. I have to admit, I wasn't completely sold by Kevin Kline's performance at first but as the film went on, I learned to love him. However, what I want to talk about here is the added backstory to Maurice and his wife (Belle's parents), I thought it made sense that Belle's mother died from the Plague and it was actually a very sad thing to hear. I also think it was interesting to find out that both Maurice and his wife were artists which is why Belle has an intellectual mind and is quite quirky and creative. This helped to develop all three characters - Maurice, his wife and Belle. Phillipe also had a much larger role and by that I mean, he was always conveniently waiting outside the castle - a little unrealistic and too convenient.
So what about Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs Potts, Chip etc? They are mostly all fantastic. I thought the chemistry between Lumiere and Cogsworth was brilliant - they had great banter and they definitely felt like the dynamic duo they have come to be. Ewan McGregor's accent is perfectly fine and Ian McKellen is as likeable as ever - this feels like the type of role that was made for him, talk about perfect casting. Emma Thompson also did a nice job with Mrs Potts - she added a cocky accent which she could have done without but she wasn't inconsistent with it which was good. Unfortunately, my only real complaint is Chip and I don't want to be too harsh because he's just a child actor but he definitely lived up to the negative child actor stereotype. Audra McDonald and Stanley Tucci - I really liked how they were a couple. I have to say, the visuals for all of the ornaments/furniture were absolutely fantastic - they looked so real yet I believed they were alive at the same time. This also made the film feel much darker - especially how Lumiere is restricted with his relationship.
Beauty and the Beast is visually stunning - a gorgeous film, inside and out - this film has heart but it's also aesthetically pleasing. I thought the cinematography was incredibly well done - the Belle and ballroom sequences come to mind - that is when I knew that the cinematography was flawless. I think the whole production and costume design is also very strong and I think this film will definitely get attention in these areas next awards season. The sets were amazing. One slight issue I had with the film was the editing - it was a little inconsistent but that is me being very picky. I also felt like many of the conversations were cut up quite a lot so they didn't flow as well as they should have.
I'm not going to spend much time on the story because we all know this story - but there's a reason it's known as a tale as old as time because it feels as current and suitable now as it did in the past, it's really a timeless tale. I have to say as well, this has to be one of the most romantic films I have seen in a while - the chemistry between Belle and the Beast was electric and I really felt the love. I suppose everybody keeps saying that the world needs love right now and I think this is a great film to provide that. The message is also as timeless as ever - beauty is found within. I think some social commentary could also be dissected from this - a group being lead by a misogynistic, arrogant and extreme leader...ring any bells? However, Emma Thompson said in an interview that you'll go in happy and come out even happier - she couldn't be anymore right because I left the cinema the happiest I have in a long time.
Finally, why I love this film so much is because it is pure Disney magic. If you had a childhood filled with Disney - you're going to love this, no doubt about that. If you love the original, you're going to love this. I think this film just taps into the inner child of all of us and really does a great job of creating a real charming and magical tone. I think the next generation will also love it - what's there not to like? All of these thoughts are after viewing #1, I'll probably add more the more I see it because I plan to see this many times at the cinema.
Beauty and the Beast is magical, charming, romantic, special, heart-warming, surprisingly funny, incredible and pretty much perfect - it's so hard to find real flaws within it. Emma Watson is the perfect Belle, the visual effects are stunning despite my previous hesitations, the cinematography is outstanding and the music is as mellifluous as ever. If you love Disney see it. If you love the original see it. If you are a human, see it. This is a film like no other - it's all about unity, love and being strong despite dark times - we all need that right now. What a cast, what a story, what a film.
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See You Soon!