Saturday, March 25, 2017

Beauty and the Beast ~ A Personal Review of a Classic Redone

  Along with a lot of other people I was over the moon excited when I found out about a live action Beauty and the Beast back in 2014. I remember the very moment actually! I was in the living room of the family I was babysitting for and they always had the Today Show on in the morning, and the movie was announced. I was so excited. I had seen Cinderella, fell so in love with it, so the thought of a remake of Beauty and the Beast (my favorite Disney Princess movie) was enough to make me do a little dance inside.

  Spoilers Ahead.

 BUT. I did have some qualms. I mean, doing Beauty and the Beast again? Doing an even better job? I have a strong belief in taking something and showing what it means to you, while staying true to the story. You can show a unique vision while still holding the essence, the soul of the story. I was excited/nervous about choosing Emma Watson for Belle. She has the brains for it, no question. But at the same time I could picture her being a scary Belle too. Haha! I was excited about everyone else in the cast--Obi-Wan being Lumiere, Gandalf being Gogsworth. Emma Thompson as Mrs. Teapot. Others. DAN STEVENS. I can tell you, my mom and I were excited about that one. And Luke Evens as Gaston! Olaf as LeFou! I did fear that a modern rendition of the Beast wouldn't have the same "oomph" as the original. The original is so perfect on so many levels.

  But I have to say, that I so enjoyed the film. Bill Condon's version was gorgeous, fun. Humorous. But it did the thing I was most afraid of. It drew way to much off of the original. I was happy when they said that there was going to be a mix of new and original songs, and that Alan Menken and Howard Ashman were returning. But the weakest part of the movie was the beginning, and so much felt "the same" in a way that I wasn't happy with. Some of it was funny, and I have to say that the best innovation of this part of the story was the realistic depiction of what made Belle so odd--she was an educated woman, and she was actually spurned and scorned for endeavoring to teach a young girl to read. This was a very real issue of the time, and was a great device in the first act. One of the brilliant ideas of the movie, that made the storyline real.

  But I have to say that it actually took me until the song in Gaston's tavern to really get into the movie, to be pulled in and happy. There was real oomph in that performance. They changed up the beat in such a fun way in part of it, incorporating more of a social celebration and rhythm, it was just so catchy and fun! After that point it just kept improving. I was just having fun. In a lot of ways the story still felt "laced together" if you will, but the new elements in the story added more meaning, and definitely an explanation to the Beast's origins. And the sins of the house. Something that was definitely missing from the original. And the ending was just great. I did think that there were minor things that could have been done better, but overall I was so pleased with the ending that I didn't care all that much. Everyone was human again and gorgeous, happy endings for all. (Except for Gaston, rotting somewhere broken to bits). I loved the dance, and how it involved everyone this time--everyone with someone they loved, happy that they were granted this blessing. Belle's dress was gorgeous--I can almost say I like it more than the classic golden ballgown. And Belle asking the Prince if he could grow a beard? Priceless. Just priceless! And that little growl! Now honestly it was just so cute and appropriate that it's one of my favorite parts.

  Overall, it was a great movie. I'd give it a 6.5. I still hold that Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella still holds the crown of the Disney live action remakes. There is nothing in that movie that I would change. The best thing about Beauty and the Beast was the beauty that it did uphold. It did show real love, rather than sentiment. While it took a bit too much from the original, (some of it felt word for word) this movie still had its wonderful, beautiful elements. Definitely worth the theater visit.

  ~ Elora Shore

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  1. I enjoyed it very much as well, although I don't think the animation has caught up to the imagination yet -- the enchanted furniture felt a little stiff, cold, and distant, despite the vocal talent. I enjoyed everything else, though, particularly the additions. :)

    And yes, Cinderella is still THE BEST live action adaptation. It's marvelous.

  2. Great review! I felt the same, that it was trying to be the original too much, but I did enjoy watching it -- mainly because of the cast! I think the real problem was that they tried to recreate all the iconic moments from the original when they should have been -- like you said, telling the same story from their perspective -- and making new iconic moments out of it. Everywhere it and the original are the same, the original is far better. But yeah, still worth a trip!

  3. Beauty and the Beast costumes are a great opportunity to present children's images of a fairy tale. Plus, it sure is a unique couples' movies online

    1. It is! One of the most fun aspects of the live action remakes is the chance to see what they do with the costumes--as a fan of costume design, I love seeing them incorporate fairytale/Disney touches to period dress. Always fascinating. Creativity knows no end.

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