Title: Beauty and the Beast
Release Date: 2017
Genre: Disney; Live-Action Animation remake; Musical
Method of Watching: Stream (Netflix)
Today I finally sat down and watched Beauty and the Beast. I expected to enjoy it and was not disappointed. However, It actually was better than I expected. Beauty and the Beast’s original Disney film came out in 1991 when I was 5 years old. So basically at the time I was obsessed with Disney films like ever other toddler in existence. So there is a lot of sentimentality to get through when watching a remake. I expected to enjoy it because of other reviews I read, but also expected to be disappointed in ways because it would no doubt not match the animated version.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this version. Emma Watson does a wonderful job as Belle, though I had been unsure about the choice before hand. Dan Stevens also did a good job as the Beast. It continues down the line with Josh Gad (Le Fou) and Luke Evans (Gaston). The casting directors for this movie did an excellent job, and got quite a few big names for it. Sir Ian McKellen is here as Cogsworth, Kevin Kline as Maurice and Ewan McGregor (a favorite of mine) as Luminare (oddly a favorite character of mine in the original).
Story wise, it was also very good. It built onto the story of before, filling out some of the holes the original left. For example, in the original animated feature, we are left wondering how people couldn’t seem to remember there was a prince in the Castle, or that anything had happened there (a human being turning into an animal looking creature probably would be newsworthy). In the prologue scene, we find out that the enchantress made it so everyone who was not changed forgot about the palace, and the area around the place is put into an eternal winter except for the rose bushes. The town has completely forgotten the Prince and their loved ones in the palace. Back story is given on the Beast as well as Belle. They added more hints as to the time it was taking place, as well as some time-specific references. There were many inside jokes as well about casting choices and the fact that it was English-speaking yet set in France. The minor characters are given more depth, making you care more about them transforming. For example, Mrs. Potts husband makes an appearance (constantly wondering just why he feels he has forgotten something), you learn about Belle’s mother, Gaston even gets more back story as being a soldier. Maurice is now an artist (while Belle is the inventor). Why the townspeople find her so strange is shown rather than implied like in the animation.
There are also some additional songs, to fill out the gaps and some of the original songs are edited to add things that were edited out of the original or to freshen it up a bit. Still, they are easily recognizable and the changes are good things, instead of bad. The sets were also pretty amazing, although you can see they may have overdone it with the influence of Versailles with the gardens. The costuming was amazing. When I was looking up the movie on IMDB there was a cute anecdote about how Dan Stevens’ daughter had made a drawing of Emma Watson as Belle in the famous yellow ball gown and the actress had shown it to the costume director who actually used it as inspiration for the final design. I’m not sure how true this is, but it sounds very cute.
In the end I am going to give this version of Beauty and the Beast an A. Good acting, singing and the changes are only good ones.