Tale as old as time, true as it can be . . .
Last Friday, Disney released their highly anticipated live-action remake of the seminal classic Beauty and the Beast. Millions of people rushed to the theaters to check out the beloved fairy tale, myself included.
It’s safe to say there has been a lot of controversy surrounding it. Many people have actually been debating whether it’s worth seeing at all. In the movie review, I’ll be discussing the movie and whether all the controversy is really worth the hub bub.
Beauty and the Beast tells the story of Belle (Emma Watson) a bright young woman who doesn’t fit in with her townsfolk. Her life is fairly boring, filled with the usual things like cleaning her laundry and gardening. Belle is an inventor though so she makes a washing machine so that she can have more time for her favorite thing: reading. After dodging a marriage proposal from the arrogant war veteran Gaston (Luke Evans,) Belle gets swept up into a fairy tale like no other when she comes face to face with her father’s captor, the Beast (Dan Stevens.)
The movie sticks pretty close to the 1991 animated film. A lot of the scenes, including the first song “Belle,” are identical to their animated counterparts. Other scenes are slightly different but maintain the charm and excitement as the original. Classic songs like “Be Our Guest,” “Gaston” and “Beauty and the Beast” are stunning scenes, both exciting and well-done. Several new songs were added but only one stood out to me. It’s called Evermore and the Beast sings it shortly after Belle leaves to find her father. Not only was it a good song in general, it fit in with the story and the other music.
As far as singing goes, everyone was alright. Emma Watson had a lovely voice. It was a little weak, which isn’t terrible for a movie. If this was a stage production of the story, she would not be the best fit, but she did fine for the movie. Luke Evans and Josh Gad, who plays Lefou, were simply wonderful. Both are very strong vocalists, which really isn’t a surprise due to the fact both of them have their background in theatre. However, I enjoyed Luke Evans more in the second half of the movie. During the first half of the film, his Gaston was a little too mopey for my taste. He did start to make his Gaston a little crueler during the final parts of the movie. Dan Stevens did a good job as well, but certainly did not have the same level of vocal training that his co-stars did. It was mostly that his voice didn’t sound as perfect or well-trained, which was nice. The Beast is a rough character and an angelic voice wouldn’t have suited the character. Emma Thompson, who played Mrs. Potts, sounded wonderful singing the movie’s iconic “Beauty and the Beast.” Lumiere was played by Ewan McGregor, who is a wonderful singer. I particularly love listening to him in the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. Of course he delivered for the most part during “Be Our Guest.” His French accent, though, was not very good at certain points. At some parts, it sounded more Mexican than French. The scene is gorgeous though, so it makes up for any error on Ewan’s part.
The movie is about two hours long, which makes it longer than the animated film. Some people were saying that time was not well-spent, and in a way it wasn’t. Some of the scenes they added were great. They gave Belle and the Beast more time to get to know each other . . . They did more than throw a couple of snow balls at each other. We see them discussing books. They debate over which one of Shakespeare’s plays is the best. Belle also catches him reading King Arthur and they talk about that for a little bit. They even talk about Belle’s mother. Her father refused to tell her what happened to her mother and Belle talks to the Beast about it. I really liked that they added those scenes because it makes their romance plausible. Let’s be real, guys . . . It would take a lot more than chasing birds in a garden to fall in love. Aside from that, there was a scene though that I felt was a little unnecessary, but it didn’t take up too much time.
A lot of people have been wondering about Belle’s character. Emma Watson is a strong Feminist, who only agreed to do the film if Belle’s character was slightly altered. Belle is a lot more practical, switching out her ballet for boots. She also is an inventor, a role which belonged to her father in the original film. She certainly is a lot more active than she was in the original, attempting to fight Gaston for a brief second in the final battle. She is certainly a strong character who knows what she wants. In the beginning, she tells Gaston she doesn’t want to get married at all. The fact that she is a more “feminist” character doesn’t take away from the romance though. It’s just as sweeping and touching as the first one. Belle isn’t a man hater, and isn’t always confident. She even tells a character that she doesn’t know what she wants at one point. Belle is flawed but strong . . . She doesn’t have her life pulled together perfectly and she doesn’t block out the support of other people. In fact, I think the changes made her more of a role model for girls who sometimes confuse being a feminist with being a man hater who is always self-reliant.
Of course, the biggest controversy surrounding the film was when the director, Bill Condon, announced to the world that Lefou was gay. Actor Josh Gad supported this claim. I went into the film looking for the gay scene promised by the director and was a little surprised. There is hardly any evidence suggesting that his character is gay, and the parts that could possibly support it could also go as a guy who simply doesn’t want to lose his friend to a girl. The only reason those scenes could come off as gay was because we have been told so. A young child going in to see the movie would hardly notice it. I think the whole issue was over blown and people were freaking out over something that is hardly there.
Beauty and the Beast was a fun film. It’s a tale as old as time and will give nostalgic audience member a little taste of a story that they have grown to love. The film is extravagant and romantic and a brilliant way to reintroduce the story to a younger generation.
I am giving the film a B+ rating. It was fun, romantic, and filled with beautiful music. Luke Evans small failure of providing a more boisterous Gaston and a couple of unnecessary scenes took off a few points. Overall, it’s a great movie to go see, especially with the family.