Beauty and the Beast – 2017
Disney’s latest live-action remake of their classic films brings us 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. Disney has had mayor success in the past with Cinderella (2015) and The Jungle Book (2016), in both recreating the magic of the originals and smashing the box office (combining for $1.5 billion dollars). So, if you ever ask yourself, why Disney remaking their classics? Well, they have 1.5 billion reasons.
Emma Watson plays Belle, an educated teen looking for something more other than life in a rural village. Dan Stevens plays the Beast, a cursed prince destined to live-out the rest of his life as a monster, unless he find love. Both were tasked with filing huge shoes left by the originals, while trying to make them their own characters. Watson accomplish this task giving Belle her own take, while Stevens did a serviceable job despite not standing out from the original. Their chemistry was solid and I was sold on their romantic arch based on their love for books.
The standouts among the human character for me were Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou. Gaston is the self-obsessed handsome villain and LeFou is his clingy right hand-man. Evans maintained a great balance in his portrayal, switching from having fun with the role (almost in a tongue and cheek way) and taking the role completely serious (during the intense scenes). Gad was again the comedic relief of the movie and had multiple scenes that had me laughing along with the audience. There is a controversy around his character since he is portrayed as a homosexual, but this is just Disney changing with the times and people are just going to have to get used to seeing everything up on the screen.
Now, the standout among the CGI characters was Ewan McGregor as Lumiére. McGregor gave his character a wonderful voice, with a unique French accent that gave a lot of personality to a candelabra. Now, while the entire cast of the servants had wonderful voice actors, I felt that the cartoon version where more… well, animated. I know they wanted to go for a more realistic approach to their design, but I enjoyed more the expressions of the original. They felt more like humans trapped in household objects, rather than objects that talked.
Director Bill Condon has shown in the past to be comfortable with musicals, having written 2002’s Chicago and directed 2006’s Dream Girls, so he was the perfect choice to helm this movie. Condon delivered a beautiful looking film that truly benefited from an incredible production value. I was amazed by the set designed both in the Beast’s castle and Belle’s village. They both felt like real-life places and provided a great backdrop for the story. Along with the set design, the costumes provided to the entire cast, were beautiful and they mirrored their cartoon counter-parts, while slightly separating themselves from them.
The set designed helped create realism of the locations in where the story was set in, but it also made the Beast’s CGI stick out like a sore thumb. Don’t get me wrong, whenever they did a close-up of his face, I was beyond impressed. The motion-capture technology to take Stevens’ expressions and translated them into the Beast was second to none. My issue was with the wide angles of his entire body, interacting with the set and Belle. This took me out of the movie multiple times and it broke the flow of the movie in my head.
If this was a completely new original story, I would be more high on it. It was very well executed; the songs are great and like I said above the production value is amazing. But when I sat down to really think about it, if I had to choose only one to watch, it will be the original animated version. Overall the movie is fun, heartfelt and has an incredible cast. I had fun and I laughed for a good chunk of the two hour and ten-minute running time and this is why I love movies.
Beauty and the Beast is currently in theaters, if you loved the original you will like this one too.
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