This post contains spoilers. Ye have been warned!
And the story begins in an enchanted castle. Not for real of course, but wouldn’t that be neat? It has come that time of year where Disney has released another live-action film. This time the focus is on a rendition of the 1991 classic: Beauty and the Beast.
Fabulous music, dancing cutlery, an enchanted rose, what’s not to love? But does the live-action film ever live up to the glory of the original? I’ll start off by saying Beauty and the Beast was never one of my favourite Disney movies but it definitely holds a special place in my heart. To me, Disney had set themselves a challenge trying to compete with, arguably, one of the best Disney animated films of all time. But they willingly stepped up to the plate.
When Disney re-did Cinderella in 2015, my expectations were met. The costuming, the casting, the plot, everything evolved from the original story perfectly while still staying true to the fairy tale. Beauty and the Beast followed suit. Overall, the film was executed extremely well.
I hesitated over the casting of Emma Watson in the lead role of the studious Belle. Oh course, she was going to take a new spin on the role, but it’s hard to be Paige O’Hara. Watson did well with the emotion in the film but at times felt a little wooden. Her singing was noticeably autotuned, but considering Watson is not a singer by trade, I’ll let it go. Luke Evans who played the egotistical Gaston, definitely shined when challenged during his musical numbers of “The Mob Song” and the self titled “Gaston.” As did Dan Stevens in the titular voice of the Beast.
There a lot of uproar before this film released about having the character of LeFou, played by Frozen’s Josh Gad, be gay. In my opinion, the outrage culture of our society is disgusting. LeFou was barely different from his original flamboyant self and the subtle nods to his sexuality (when they were made) were clever and funny. Josh Gad did well in his role, but as I said to my Mum, he plays Josh Gad more than a character. Not wowed overall, but I understand his casting.
The soundtrack saw a couple of new songs. New music written by original songwriter Alan Menken was an amazing add on to this film. Notably, “Evermore” the Beast’s heartbreak number about his love for Belle gave a depth to Beast’s character which was never fleshed out greatly in the animated feature. Josh Groban, yes, the angel himself, did a rendition of the song on the official soundtrack and it is quite flawless. I would recommend checking out that 100% whether you see the movie or not. It has become a staple on my iPod in the last few days.
All in all, the aspect of this film I enjoyed the most was how seamlessly the movie managed to fill in the plot holes in the original version. Let me explain. One of the issues I have with Beauty and the Beast was how old Beast was supposed to be when he was cursed. By the lore of the story, Beast has been a beast for 10 years, meaning he was cursed at the age of 11! What type of enchantress would curse an insolent child? In this version, the time is drastically reduced and Beast is an adult when cursed. Though his abusive father is blamed for his disrespectful behaviour, a bit more detail in this area would have made the info feel like it was relevant versus filling in a plot hole.
The backstory concerning Belle’s mother is also lacking a bit of fleshing out. I felt originally, Belle’s mother was dead, so hearing the plague caused her death was not surprising. I mean, this is a Disney movie. Mothers don’t make it very far in Disney films with few exceptions.
The most successful add in was filling in why the townspeople had no knowledge of Beast’s castle. It’s quite obvious: the Enchantress who cursed Beast wiped their minds. Yet, finally having an answer felt so rewarding.
Like Cinderella and The Jungle Book, the sets, graphics, and music were all incredible. The dresses were gorgeous the bright and brilliant colours brought a sense of magic. I will admit, I had a huge smile on my face during almost all of the musical numbers. What can I say? Disney makes me happy.
Once again, Disney has delivered a beautiful rendition of a timeless fairy tale. Here’s to hoping the next one, Mulan, can compete!