Last week, I went to the movie theater see the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast (1991). Since I absolutely cannot shut up about it, I figured I should make a blog post. Regular programming will (probably) resume next week, and…yeah. Anyways, these are my thoughts on the new movie.
(I should probably mention that Belle is my favorite Disney princess and that the original movie is my favorite animated Disney movie ever. So, I don’t know if this is going to be closer to an actual review or just a fangirl session, but I guess we’ll find out)
Movie: Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Grade: 98% (A+)
Will Purchase: Yes definitely
Because this movie features lots of…animated inanimate objects–not to mention the Beast–a lot of computer graphics were used. Before I saw the movie, I was concerned about it looking cheesy or unrealistic, not blending well with a real Emma Watson and/or a real set. Boy, was I wrong! CGI technology is really getting amazing, and it blends almost seamlessly with the live-action characters and backdrop. Visually, this film is positively stunning, the aesthetic perfectly cohesive. I would actually say that the visuals are a large part of what makes this film so captivating. The original film has a unique art style, and this remake is no different, although it takes a slightly different form because this movie is live-action as opposed to 2-D animation. Also, the character design for all the castle inhabitants is great. Not only do they look incredibly ornate (which was the goal when the Prince purchased them), but they also have just that little bit of “Disney-ite” to them that makes it believable that they could be moving and sentient–especially Lumière and Chip.
Before seeing the film, I have to say that I was unsure about how the music would turn out. I didn’t know whether they were planning to “modernize” the music (kind of difficult to do in mid-to-late 1700’s France), and some of the clips I watched left a bit to be desired, that’s for sure. Now that I’ve seen it, I really don’t really know why I was worried with Alan Menken as composer for both films. I loved the orchestration; even though it was mostly the same original, it played a little bit with the rhythm and style. Even the new songs brought in musical themes from the original songs in the orchestration, which I absolutely loved. The lyrics to the original songs, written by the late Howard Ashman, proved their lasting value and longevity. The new songs, with lyrics written by Tim Rice, blended perfectly with the original songs while still holding their own and having importance within the film. I also had my concerns about the singing, as I’m a bit of a choir nerd, but it turned out okay in the end. It’s important to remember that they were all cast as actors, not for their singing abilities; and, quite honestly, I was impressed with how well they actually did. Needless to say, I will definitely be buying the soundtrack.
The Real Question
The usual reason people read reviews is to find out whether or not the thing in question is worth their time or money. In my (admittedly fangirlish) opinion, this movie is completely, 100% worth it. I will be definitely be buying the soundtrack, as well as the Blu-ray when it is released. I may also go to see it in the theater at least one more time, just because I love it that much. If you are at all a fan of the 1991 animated classic, you will probably like this remake. I’m not usually a fan of these remakes Disney has been doing over the last few years, but this one is near perfection in my opinion.
*****SPOILERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!*****
Acting and Characters
I may have had my doubts about other elements of this film, but one part of it that I never worried about was the acting. Of course, this film has a star-studded cast, all with years of experience, so it’s not like I was really all that surprised. When I saw the trailer, I didn’t quite understand how the non-Beast castle inhabitants were going to be able to pull off much emotion, as they’re not exactly made of “Disney-ite” like the characters in the original animated movie are (well, there’s probably a little bit in there). But, that’s where the voice performance comes in–their faces may not be as expressive as those in the animated film, but their voices are what carries the bulk of the emotional expression, and it works really well for this film. The Beast, however, has a much more expressive face, which makes sense based on how the film was shot and the fact that he’s not supposed to be made of English china, as Mrs. Potts is. Emma Watson did a fantastic job as Belle, and the moment that really sold it for me was either the library scene, or after Beast fends off the wolves and she’s kind of debating whether she wants to help him. She added quite a lot of depth to the character, although that is also due to the screenplay. In fact, we see a greater depth of pretty much every character, which is super cool.
That One Part
This movie had some controversy surrounding it because one of it’s characters, LeFou, is canonically gay and presumably has unrequited love for Gaston. (There was actually a debate in my house about whether I should go see the movie, but eventually my parents got over it. They must have forgotten or decided they don’t care now, as they’re making plans to see it themselves.) Personally, I think this insight gives a lot of depth to LeFou’s character, and it really reveals his motivations in a way the original movie never did. Now, it may not make much historical sense that he’d be openly gay in 18th century France (especially if it takes place before 1791), but he’s actually closeted until the very last scene, where he’s very briefly shown dancing with a man. Of course, this movie is fantasy, and doesn’t have to be historically correct–they could live in an alternate universe where being openly gay in 18th century France wouldn’t raise any legal concerns or ruffle any religious or moral feathers. It’s such a small part of the movie that all this backlash seems entirely ridiculous. Honestly, whenever I think about all the things butthurt conservatives are saying, it makes me want to go see the movie at least three more times before it leaves theaters, just to spite their boycotts. Maybe that’s a little excessive, but anyways…
I absolutely loved the costume design in this movie. It’s a perfect extension of the already beautiful aesthetic. There’s a part where Belle is doing something not particularly ladylike…I believe she’s riding Philippe, her father’s horse, to the castle, and part of her skirt is tucked into her bloomers so she doesn’t have to ride sidesaddle. It was a not-so-subtle way of saying exactly the kind of person Belle is, virtually unconcerned with what might be expected of her as a woman.
Absolute Favorite Moments
♥ The exposition/introduction was perfect and beautiful
♥ Gaston: …it gives her a certain–
LeFou: Je ne sais quoi?
Gaston: I don’t know what that means.
♥ I had a huge, stupid grin on my face during the entire “Be Our Guest” sequence
♥ The library scene was great
♥ The Gaston song was hilarious
♥ The new songs–Days in the Sun, Evermore, and How Can a Moment Last Forever were perfection
♥ The end scene also left me with a huge, stupid grin on my face
Not My Favorite Moments
⊗ LeFou’s awkward spelling gaffe in the Gaston song–it had no reason to be there and wasn’t all that funny to me (what they should have done was still have him misspell it but maybe not drag it out so long and include the part about being illiterate, especially since it doesn’t really fit with the rest of his character)
⊗ The enchanted book scene could have been improved if you ask me, but the song was beautiful (“How Does a Moment Last Forever (Montmartre)”)
⊗ That’s really about it. Will update if I can remember anything else.
That’s all for now, Folks!
Thanks for reading