Last Friday, I went and saw the new live-action Beauty and the Beast. I went with my siblings and made "the gray stuff" as a refreshment:
So, if you follow this blog or know much about me at all, you know that Beauty and the Beast is my favorite. Favorite Disney movie, favorite movie in general, favorite fairy tale. I was thrilled to see the live-action film. And now you get my review.
I loved it. It was beautifully made. It was stunning to look at, and they balanced the orchestral score and singing which makes it harder to hear the words of the songs, but easier to hear the beautiful score accompanying the singing. Singing voices weren't spectacular (Emma Watson was autotuned), but not abysmal, in the final production. And man, Luke Evans can sing. Did not see that coming. I adored the new song "Evermore," as well.
The show was reminiscent of a Broadway production, with the dancing, musical timing, and gorgeous set. It was beautiful to look at, and so much fun to watch! My favorite thing about the film was how they blended the 1991 Disney movie, the Broadway show, and the original fairy tale. Elements of all three came together well, and I loved seeing that. The movie is most true to the animated movie, though.
Story-wise, they did some things I enjoyed. Major plot holes from the old movie (or at least places where plot holes could exist) are filled in, and they give more backstory about the Beast and about Belle. Maurice is a more complex character, as are the servants, Gaston, and LeFou. I especially liked how they took a turn on Gaston's vanity; he doesn't just care about his appearance, he cares about how other perceive him, and that was fascinating.
Belle knows more about the curse, which changed the dynamic a little, although she doesn't know how it can be broken. She's more part of the castle's household, helping out with cleaning and such, and I liked that since it showed more of a family dynamic in the house. I also liked seeing how the servants actually love the Beast, instead of simply fear his anger. I loved some of the new scenes with Belle and the Beast, and I thought it was cute and romantic. I will buy this movie and watch it again. It's going to happen.
That said, the movie isn't replacing the old, animated 1991 classic in my heart. I don't think the new movie is better than the old one, and here are my reasons why. First, in the older movie, I liked how the Beast was more willing to try to get along with Belle, and I missed in the new version the cute, awkward Beast who was SO EXCITED to give Belle the library.
The new one is more gentlemanly in some ways, and as much as I liked seeing him be more princely with Belle, I missed the "unsure" Beast. I also felt like he wasn't as active in the relationship as in the old one. Lumiere is the one who takes Belle to her room; as much as I liked how the servants had a bigger role, I wished the Beast was the one introducing Belle to the castle. I felt like he started to respect her earlier in the animated movie, and I missed that.
The main thing I disliked about the new movie was how they portrayed Belle. Now, you're about to get some spoilers, so if you don't want them, skip the next two paragraphs and just know that I didn't think she was as active a participant in the story and in her own life as in the animated movie.
[SPOILERS] Okay, you've been warned. In the new film, Gaston threatens to send Maurice to the asylum as a way to get Maurice to give him Belle's hand in marriage. He doesn't threaten Belle with this; the choice becomes Maurice's, not Belle's. I felt like this took her choice, her agency, out of the story, instead of it being her choice to reject Gaston and come up with a plan to save her father on her own.
[SPOILERS PART 2] Warned again. At the end of the movie, the Beast has been shot by Gaston and is dying, and the last petal falls before Belle says, "I love you." The curse becomes permanent. The reason it's reversed is because the Enchantress shows up, Belle says it too late, and the Enchantress reverses the spell on her own. Wait, what? Belle is the hero; she should be the one who breaks the spell. Having the Enchantress show up, decide, "Oh, well, close enough," and fix everything felt a little too deus ex machina to me and I felt it took away Belle's power in the story. Yes, she did love the Beast. But the spell wasn't broken by her. Who's the hero in this story, now?
Okay, we're back. So, overall, I loved the new movie. It was a good adaptation and loved the spectacle and the new takes on some of the secondary characters. I will watch it again and buy it on DVD. But, I didn't like how the major characters were less active in their stories as before. The new one is great, but I do and will always prefer the older one.
That dress, though:
I want that dress.
Here are the book debuts this week:
Danielle Mages Amato - The Hidden Memory of Objects (3/21)
Michael Miller - Shadow Run (3/21)