In case you have been off the face of the earth for a few months, you will have known that tonight the public finally gets to see the live action version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. As I do with all remakes of any beloved film, I always try to keep an open mind and form opinions once I have seen the film. With that being said, I can share my thoughts on Disney’s latest endeavor in their live action films.
This film is a retelling of the Disney classic from their Renaissance period. For the sake of this article, I will assume most have seen the original animated version. The film does an excellent job making a well known tale fresh again by breathing familiarity and new creativity into the characters, soundtrack and the plot itself. With a stellar cast and addition of beautiful new songs, it makes a wonderful tale even more beautiful.
Let’s begin with the soundtrack, shall we?
Now the soundtrack was available a few days before the film debuted today and I did listen to the entire album prior to viewing. I fell in love with the new songs. They were not necessary to add but they added to the emotional aspect of the film and helped add depth to the characters. From Maurice’s “How does a moment last forever?” to the Beast’s “Evermore”, it really helped move the story along in some ways. Even with the songs from the original that many of us have come to love over the years was done justice thanks to the talented cast and ensemble players. My only gripe when it came to the soundtrack was Watson’s singing. It wasn’t that great but the entirety of the soundtrack was good enough that I could personally overlook it. Not to mention Alan Menken had a hand in it and I automatically accept anything he creates. He actually created four new songs for the new version of this film. Oh and did I mention the spectacular Audra McDonald sings a stunning aria?
The atmosphere of the film was very much so appreciated by me. It felt very much like 17th century France to me. For example, Belle’s provincial is given a major upgrade. In the animated version, I feel it is meant to be more comical whereas in this version it is the perfect introduction to all the players who live in her small town. It is a real french country village and gives you a better idea of the time period the story takes place. In Beast’s castle, I got major palace of Versailles feels. Even from the characters who were immobilized as objects gave the feel of antiques you would see in a home of french noble. My only issue regarding atmosphere here is the introduction of the library, an important part of the original film. Personally, it seemed to be downplayed a bit in the film but it does still play an important part in the relationship between beast and belle. The CGI brings in depth and a major emotional factor to familiar scenes such as the ballroom scene, the introduction of Belle’s character and Beast’s character and the “Be Our Guest” scene.
I cannot stress enough to come into this film with an open mind because it will not be a carbon copy of the animated tale. I appreciated the addition of little details that filled in plot holes that the animate film failed to do, therefore making the story a bit more relatable and realistic to the audience. Because of spoilers I cannot go into great detail regarding it but Disney fans will appreciate it. The original message of the story stays true. To look beyond appearances and to look within for one’s true beauty, to be yourself and not follow the crowd and that love is stronger than hate in all forms.
Finally, let’s review our cast.
So we have a all star cast featuring Emma Watson as Belle, known for her Harry Potter fame as Hermione Granger, and Dan Stevens, known for his role on Downton Abbey, as the Beast. Others include Luke Evans as Gaston, Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s Father, Josh Gad as LeFou, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Stanley Tucci as the new character Maestro, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, Nathan Mack as Chip and Hattie Morahan as Agathe.
I will focus on two characters in particular for the moment and then the rest of the cast. I will say that Dan Stevens really stole the film for me. He really brought out the emotional aspect of the Beast and his character development of bringing out his humanity in an amazing way. Even with him playing a CGI character the majority of the film, he really does justice to the character. And I have been wanting to discuss the character of LeFou as he has been in the midst of some social media drama as of late. It was confirmed that his character was gay and that he had a small scene that showcased this. There was also concern in the LGBT community that he would be mistreated in the film. Without giving away spoilers I can assure you that his small scene was very much so blown out of proportion and that his character is done in a way you will not have thought it would have. LeFou is given dignity in the film to me personally but I will leave it up to the LGBT community to make that opinion official.
Each member of the immediate cast does an excellent job of bringing their characters. Emma brings a certain quirk to the character of Belle that makes her more human in the sense that she isn’t perfect but is morally a good individual. Luke Evans brings the reminder that the character of Gaston could be an actual, everyday villain in our real world but not strictly through constant narcissism like his animated counterpart. Maurice is not shown to be comedic but a relatable father figure that anyone would have. Thompson as Mrs. Potts is another one who steals scenes to me personally as well. I cannot say anything more except she is the epitome of Mr. Potts. Plumette gets more of a role as Lumiere’s love interest in this version while McKellen and McGregor as Lumiere and Cogsworth isn’t as comedic as the original but still find an agreeable friendship with the two.
Overall, I can safely add this retelling of Disney’s Live action film trend to the list of films they have done thus far that are very well done. As long as you do not constantly compare it to the original animated film, you will appreciate the little details that was put into the making of this film. The cast was very well put together, the soundtrack is reminiscent of the beloved classics with the addition of new favorites and the plot adds a bit more and the additions only advances the beauty of the tale as whole. 90s Disney fans will be sure to enjoy the film and it is suitable for all ages.
A must see!