I just saw #BeautyandtheBeast last night. I will admit, I got the feels. I got teary eyed not once but twice during this film. It was an emotional ride. It was one of the few films where I would express my excitement for the trailers. The design looked perfect, the casting was out of this world and Disney’s recent live action adaptations of Jungle Book and Cinderella were really good, so the anticipation was at a fever pitch. Plus, this was remaking the only animated film that was nominated for Best Picture. When I was growing up it was Beauty and the Beast, #Aladdin, #TheLionKing and #TheLittleMermaid in some order as my favorite. Those four films were #Disney and Beauty and the Beast is considered to not only be one of the best Disney or animated films of all time but one of the greatest films of all time. So there is a lot of pressure on this adaptation and it did an admirable job. When it’s successful it skyrockets the viewer beyond nostalgia to a fantastical world but too often those moments are interspersed with below average moments while relying too much on its animated predecessor.
As always, I want to focus on the positives. When this film is on, it is ON and you become completely immersed. The set design, the costumes, they are all wonderful and should be considered for an Academy Award later this year. It feels like a combination of a play, musical, film and realistic all at once. The castle if beyond beautiful and is superior to the animated film. The costumes brings the viewer right into the world and all the set pieces really makes this feel like a contained world. It is the town and the castle and, thankfully, doesn’t stray too much beyond that.
The music, for the most part, was a positive. All of the classic songs make a return (Belle, Gaston, Be Our Guest, Something There, Beauty and the Beast, The Mob Song) as well as few new surprises. The Beast’s solo song, Evermore, was particularly beautiful and matched the epic feeling that I was desiring from the others. How Does a Moment Last Forever is perfectly fine and is nice. The singers that stood out to me were #LukeEvans and #DanStevens. Stevens sings beautifully as the #Beast and Evermore is the showcase; Evans owns #Gaston and is one of the reasons his two songs (The Mob Song and Gaston) work so well. I was disappointed that Audra McDonald (multiple Tony and Emmy Award winning actress and singer) was so restricted in this film; she is easily the best singer and yet she was regulated to being a poorly used opera singer.
For the overall performances I was totally happy for Luke Evans. He has made some poor choices in film and this was easily his best feature performance. He really owned this role as Gaston; he became lost in the character and you become enamored by his charm and despicable nature. Evans has moments that are “wow” moments for the audience and he totally deserves it. Seeing the change in Gaston was really well done and I enjoyed that he wasn’t just a cocky, goofy villain but became something truly evil by the end of it. Dan Stevens was a great Beast and I truly could feel for him after getting over his fierceness in the beginning. #EmmaWatson turned in a wonderful acting performance (save for a few moments) during this film. She was a smart, strong and graceful #Belle; exactly what I was hoping she would be. Her character was given more depth and backstory than in the animated version and I appreciated that. Josh Gad was great as #Lefeu, organically bringing humor and levity to the role as well as a true arc. #IanMcKellen and #EwanMcGregor had great chemistry together and I enjoyed every time they were on screen. Yes, McGregor’s accent was bad but I felt it added to the whole ambiance of the film.
Now, let’s go to some of the problems I had with this film. First and foremost, while I enjoyed Watson as Belle, she was not a good singer in this. Her voice was not strong enough for the role and was featured throughout. She was regularly outperformed by her co-stars and to me that is very disappointing. She wasn’t bad but she seemed bad comparatively to her counterparts. Then, during “Be Our Guest” there was a smirk on her face, not wonderment at what was happening. I watched it and my mouth was open from happiness and amazement; Belle just sat there like she expected it and didn’t seem impressive. Anyway, those annoyed me. The other part that didn’t always work were some of the new songs. They seemed added just to be added and weren’t necessary. Also, it didn’t help that I didn’t care for most of them (save Evermore). I also thought that while it improved on some parts of the animated film, I kept finding myself always comparing the songs to the animated feature. I found the demise of Gaston to be very poorly thought out and didn’t work very well. It seemed lazy. I also found the involvement of magic and the sorceress to be quite bad. It was not needed and unnecessary. There were also parts that seemed to just drag on when I wanted the story to keep moving.
Overall, I was worried that my nostalgia glasses would either make me too critical or ignore all the issues. Thankfully it didn’t and I found myself really enjoying the film. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and while it does improve the animated film in some parts, it comes up short in others. That describes the film in general, some singers are very strong while Watson was not. The costumes were beautiful and the design were near perfect. I enjoyed the entire experience and I definitely got chills during “Beauty and the Beast.” The whole sequence for “Be Our Guest” was definitely better than in the animated film. Overall, fans of the old animated film will be happy to bring their family to this movie, regardless of the shortcomings. Those who are not as attached will watch this and still get enjoyment. I know this will be one of the few films I will want to own.
Rating: Definitely Watch it in Theaters.
What did you think of Beauty and the Beast? What did you feel they did well and didn’t do well? Leave a comment below!