Film Review – Beauty and the Beast (2017) (Second Take)
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
“Delightfully nostalgic and artfully designed”
From 101 Dalmatians (1996) to Alice in Wonderland (2010) to The Jungle Book (2016) comes Disney’s latest live-action adaptation of one of their classic and most loved animated films. Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite films growing up and when news of the live-action film’s release started peppering my Facebook page I instantly became interested. By the look of the trailers, it seemed to me that I could really enjoy watching it. I also couldn’t help but compare the scenes to the original animated feature.
Everyone knows the story of Beauty and the Beast: a young girl in a small town desperately wanting more than a provincial life who finds herself in the hands of a cursed soul who must “learn to love.” Disney is responsible for the wishful thinking young girls incur as they grow up thinking this is how life is. It was ingrained in me that two most unlikely people fall in love and live happily ever after. Watching this as an adult, I can make out the subtle lessons and you realize this is not how life really is. This is why they’re called fairy tales.
I gotta hand it to the casting crew. They did a pretty good job with the cast. Aesthetically, they all looked great for the part. Emma Watson (Belle) said of her character, “I just fell in love with Belle. She was a feisty young woman who spoke her mind… When you love something that much, you wanna do it justice.” She did just that. Nothing was over the top and everything you remember from the original film was there. I’d probably say that Watson’s singing wasn’t the best or met the expectations you’d have in comparison to Paige O’Hara, but she didn’t suck either. I had no idea she could even sing. Also, it was a nice homage and brilliant encouragement to young girls and women as they made Belle the inventor instead of her father, inventing a new way to wash laundry. Young girls of the new generation will have a new hero to look up to.
“Teaching a girl to read? … Something must be done about this!”
My favorite character might have been Le Fou (Josh Gad). We all knew he could sing from his portrayal of Olaf in Frozen. He gave a wonderful performance as the comedic relief of this film. It was a spot-on rendition of the animated character. Fun tidbit: As pointed out in IMDB’s fact list, Le Fou posed as a snowman standing guard as Belle and Maurice arrived home and Gad’s Olaf is a snowman in Frozen. Coincidence?
Each character was portrayed wonderfully, even the Beast. Originally, director Bill Condon wanted Dan Stevens to wear prosthetics for his portrayal as the Beast, but after great consideration went with CG for the Beast’s head. He wore a full body suit below the neck. I think it was a great choice as it didn’t look shitty and I would imagine Stevens’s acting would’ve suffered if he had to wear all that. All the CG effects went quite smoothly, especially the “Be Our Guest” scene, extravagant and boisterous.
Costumes, makeup and design…the creatives on this team get a high five from me. With obvious nods to the original, the castle took the cake. I was really impressed with the design and details. The way they made the castle a character in the film was brilliant.
I did quite enjoy the little extra bits they added to the film, like some of the Beast’s family background, new songs and the presence of the enchantress. The additions did not stray from the flow of the story and made for an enjoyable experience. As I sat there lip syncing to the songs and smiling widely, I felt like a kid again. If you’re gonna go to watch the film, I’d say you’ll really enjoy it for the nostalgia. The younger generations will love it for the razzle dazzle and fun. It’s a great story with great characters and underlying lessons – like give people a chance to show their true colors and be bold, but be kind. Enjoy, and don’t forget the buttered popcorn!