Review: Beauty and the Beast
Where do I begin? I loved this movie so much I can’t decide where to start. When I start to think of what I loved the most, then other elements come rushing to my mind and I can’t quite decide. So, I will simply begin, or give you a place to begin: 3D.
If you go see this movie, I highly recommend opting for the 3D version. My daughter was pouting that I was going to take her to the matinee instead of the evening show (because I had to drive an hour to see this, on snowy, icy roads and the only option for 3D was the early matinee or the late show, resulting in driving home on icy, snowy roads, in the dark when I’m tired). She figured that going to the earlier evening show as better than missing the 3D version. I am so, so happy I didn’t listen to her.
You truly entered this movie, entered it into 18th Century France, with the intricate sets and beautifully detailed costumes, every moment of this movie felt like a work of art. There was so much to take in, so much to enjoy; it was a feast for the senses, one truly enhanced by the 3D pulling you inside. From the opening credits, when the rose is right there in front of your face, to the final images where you’re transported into the ballroom, this was one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen and the 3D was definitely a part of that. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the movie without the 3D, but if the option is there, I highly recommend going for it.
I want to take a moment here to mention the beast’s castle. Again, at the opening credits, we see it, and shivers go up your spine. From that moment you are transported, and they did such an amazing job creating not only a fairy tale castle, but one full of intrigue and ruin, and beauty and art. And magic. Because, of course, this is a magical castle. Now, I know the actors of Harry Potter do not want to carry Hogwarts with them everywhere they go, but in this case, there were so many elements of Beast’s Castle that reminded me of the magical moments in Harry Potter where the staircases in the school would move, the walls would change and the entire place would transport you to a new world. That was one of the reasons I loved the Harry Potter movies so much, I was truly pulled into a magical place, and I got that same feeling watching Emma Watson move through the castle in this movie. No, I didn’t think of her as Hermione, she’s fully Belle, however, I really appreciated that same magical wonder from this movie.
If for the beauty alone, go see this movie.
However, there’s so much more about this movie that they got right. In my previous post, I made the assumption that if Emma Watson had taken on this role, there was no way Belle would have been some weak victim falling in love with her abusive captor. And I wasn’t wrong. It was like they’d taken the previous movie, in which many people had many arguments against it (ie. Stockholm Syndrome) and added a line here and there to give us no doubt that Belle was a strong, independent woman making her own decisions. They kept all the elements that made the animated version a beloved movie, and then added a few lines here and there, some action, some conversation, some remorse, compassion and empathy, that made these characters, and especially Belle, the kind of person we could all aspire to be, allowing this version to soar so much higher than the previous one.
I would like to also point out another aspiring character in this movie: Disney’s first homosexual character for which there has been a great deal of backlash. I do not want to ruin that storyline for you, but they did an amazing job making him someone I think so many kids could look up to. In a world of social media, bullying, peer pressure, they created a character whose typical job in these kinds of movies is to blindly follow their hero, despite their heinous principles and actions. What they did with LeFou in this version was beautiful (it’s seen in his change, in the way he starts to question things, and that is all I will tell you) and show every child watching this movie that they too can question who they are, who they are with, and make their own choices. And here’s the thing, for you naysayers out there. The homosexual character in this movie wasn’t an overtly gay character in which you could point and say, “Oh! There he is!” He was simply a great character; a funny, charming, and inspirational character who questioned who he was. Those who say that this shouldn’t be in a Disney film, that kids shouldn’t be exposed to that, to be made to think it’s normal, well, that’s an incredibly narrow-minded and outdated viewpoint. He was great and it didn’t matter in the slightest if he was gay or straight (because, it doesn’t matter if anyone is gay or straight, we’re all humans and all deserving of love and acceptance). That little nod to the diversity of the human population added so much to this movie. And I say little, because if it weren’t for a few seconds towards the end of the film, you’d never question whether any of the characters were gay or straight. Because, again, it doesn’t matter. They were simply great, complex characters from whom we have much to learn. And the little moment in a dress (I do not want to say anything else) was so fantastic that I feel quite sorry for those who are too busy passing judgment on others to have been able to enjoy it.
The other element I’ve heard of as a topic of debate is the singing in this movie. I thought it was absolutely fine, in some cases, quite skilled. Luke Evans is fantastic as Gaston, Josh Gad, well, I probably could have watched an entire other musical with LeFou as the starring character. And all the rest of them, they did a great job. No, Emma Watson is not Paige O’Hara and that is okay, because she has a beautiful voice and her portrayal of Belle more than makes up for any weaknesses in her voice. Yes, quite often, large Hollywood names are used in place of someone who may have more skill as a singer, however, Emma Watson was a huge selling feature as Belle and if that means her voice might not be classically trained, that’s okay by me. It wasn’t bad, it was quite lovely to listen to, and I’m sure most of those who’ve watched this movie will be wondering what I’m even talking about. This was a live action film, so beautifully done, and if one or two of the voices did not compare to classically trained Broadway singers like Audra McDonald, they made up for it in other ways. Hell, as far as I’m concerned, I was simply excited I didn’t have to listen to Angela Lansbury butchering the main song!
As you can see, I loved this movie. Of course, I loved the original and I love the story so my opinion is definitely biased (notice all the love going around!). But if you’re wondering if this is worth seeing, I do think so. I more than think so, but I’m sure you figured that out already.