Hi all. I know it’s been awhile, but I figured that I’d make my blogging return with a post about the new live-action Beauty and the Beast. I have been looking forward to this movie for months, and finally got to see it Friday. I was not disappointed. The original animated movie was one of my favorite movies as a child, and I couldn’t wait to see the magic brought to life. Belle is also one of my favorite Disney princesses. I have always been an avid reader, and Belle read books, used her imagination, and stood up for herself even as the townspeople shunned her for it. This has always resonated with me.
This is my review for the movie, which I will try to keep as spoiler free as possible. (Though if you have seen the animated version, then I’m not sure much could be spoiled for you). Well first of all, I’ve noticed there have been a good amount of negative reviews for this movie. I don’t really understand why. I loved it, so this review will be overwhelmingly positive. I figured I’d warn you now.
The cast was wonderful. Emma Watson is a talented, strong actress who did a great job bringing Belle to life. I also enjoyed the practicality of Belle’s wardrobe, outlook, and inventions. Dan Stevens was able to bring so much character and expression as well as dry wit to the Beast, which was successful in adding even more dimension to the character. I know some people have been distracted by the CGI used in the creation of the Beast, but it did not detract from the movie for me. Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw brought all of the servants to life and were a pleasure to watch on screen whether it was as a household item or as a person at the end of the movie. It was interesting for me to see Luke Evans portray a villain, not having seen him in a role like that before, but he did a good job portraying the narcissism and darkness of Gaston as the movie progressed. Josh Gad added dimension to Le Fou, who is a bumbling buffoon in the animated version, and turned him into someone with a conscience. Kevin Kline was also enjoyable to watch as Maurice.
The scenery, castle, and representations of the servants were beautiful, like Lumiere in candlestick and Cogsworth in clock form. The songs were also well-done. For me, a few did not hold up to the original movie versions or to those in the Broadway play, but they were still sung well and with genuine emotion. There were also added songs, like a song for the Beast that was one of my favorites in the movie. It reminded me of “If I Can’t Love Her” from the Broadway musical, and both are worth listening to even if you don’t go to see the movie. Alan Menken can always be trusted to create beautiful (and catchy) music. The songs are still stuck in my head two days later, and I will admit that I cried multiple times during this movie. I started tearing up a bit during “Belle” because of the nostalgia it evoked.
I enjoyed the parallels to the original animated movie, and the fact that the live-action version fixed some of the timeline as well as adding background to the characters. The prince is older when he rejects the enchantress, and his arrogance is somewhat explained as well. The terms of the enchantment are shown plainly; the village does not remember the existence of the castle or the people who live there. Belle’s mother and her story is also explained in the movie. I enjoyed many of the added details and facets of the characters. This movie is similar to the animated version, which makes sense to me because it never claimed to be a new movie; it’s a live-action rendition of the animated version, and it does a good job of representing the original in a real-world past setting. Thank you, Emma Watson and Dan Stevens for bringing some of my favorite Disney characters to full and nuanced life. I would see this movie again, and I am sure I probably will if my Mom wants to see it. Hint, hint. 😉
Thank you to whoever made that great representation comparing the beginning of the ballroom scene between the two versions.