As promised in my last blog: my review for Beauty and the Beast. (I have a lot to say.)
I want to start by saying I loved this movie.
I loved almost everything about this movie. But, before I get into all of that, I want to start with what I didn’t like and get that out of the way. (I will try to avoid spoilers, but if you’ve seen the original animated classic, you know exactly what happens.)
Let’s start with the obvious: Ariana Grande and John Legend’s cover of Beauty and the Beast. By now anyone who has any interest in hearing the cover has already listened to it so. Unless you’re a die-hard Ariana Grande/John Legend fan, you probably agree it’s a complete disappointment. There’s way too much show boating and their voices are flat and lifeless. It sounds too much like a karaoke performance gone wrong.
The dress. The dress; Belle’s most iconic outfit.
It was incredibly plain. It looked like the slip that should have been worn under the actual dress. It did not have the fairy tale look like the original dress had. I was hoping for a dress as magical as Cinderella’s.
It was also the only outfit in the movie that was not historically accurate. In an article released a while a back, Emma Watson explained why she refused to wear a corseted dress. “In Emma’s reinterpretation, Belle is an active princess. She did not want a dress that was corseted or that would impede her in any way.” That’s all well and good and all, but the most “active” thing Belle did in that dress was ride a horse. Unlike in the animated movie, Belle did not change her dress before going to help her father, so she rode back into the village in her ballgown. After escaping from being locked up, she rides back to the castle to save the Beast, but before she even leaves the village, she takes off the dress and throws it to the side and continues on in just her under dress. She could have worn a more fairy tale- and historically accurate- dress without it hindering her in any way, since she didn’t actually do anything while wearing the dress. Actually, Belle wasn’t all that active throughout the entire movie. Basically, she just walked around a lot. That was the extent of her “activity”.
Continuing on the topic of Belle, I was kind of disappointed with Emma Watson’s portrayal of her (not as disappointed as I thought I’d be, but more on that later). My problem with Watson’s Belle was not that she changed the character too much (like I had originally feared), but it was simply that she just wasn’t that good at acting.
And her singing was auto-tuned and sounded weird/off. Also, the movie clearly states Belle’s backstory and how she was born and raised in France, yet Emma Watson made no attempt to get rid of her English accent.
Perhaps she should have spent more time with a voice coach and less time working with the costume designers and ruining Belle’s dress. (I’m a little bitter, can you tell?) I’m not sure who they could have cast that would have done a better job. Perhaps someone who has played Belle on Broadway?
Speaking of accents, Ewan McGregor’s French accent was… I don’t know. Distracting? It did not sound right at all. I don’t know what else to say about it. I think Ewan McGregor was not necessarily a poor choice, but I don’t think it was the right choice. To be honest, I think it would have been fun to cast Patrick Stewart as Lumiere to work alongside Ian McKellen’s Cogsworth. The two of them would have brought more chemistry and humor to the characters, which was surprisingly lacking in the movie. Though there was a little banter between Lumiere and Cogsworth, it was nowhere near what the animated movie had. Not casting Patrick Stewart was a missed opportunity. In my opinion.
There were a couple of small things that I wasn’t a fan of. The first being the musical number for Belle. It seemed rather low-budget and felt more like I was a watching a play instead of a movie. And, again, Emma Watson’s voice. The second thing was the narrator at the beginning of the movie. I’m not sure who narrated it, but she did not have the same impact as the original. Third, they still didn’t give the Beast a name. Like, what? Even the prince in Cinderella got a name. Fourth, the library. It was nothing at all like the one in the animated movie. It was a bit of a letdown, actually.
The last small thing was the age difference between Gaston and Belle. There’s only a 10 year age gap between Luke Evans and Emma Watson, which normally isn’t a big deal in movies, but every time they did a scene together, he always looked so much older next to her (he’s only 37, but next to her, he looked like he was in his late 40s).
The age difference was something we actually discussed after the movie and we agreed that who they really needed as Belle is a younger Kate Beckinsale.
O.K. Now, for the biggest thing that I didn’t like about the movie.
Gaston was completely one dimensional. They had an opportunity to give him a backstory that enlists sympathy or, at the very least, help us understand why he is the way he is. But, all we got was the mention that he’s a captain and fought in a war (this was used to explain why he is seen as a hero to the other villagers). They could have given us anything else to go along with that to explain his behavior and give him depth.
We’re told the Beast is the way he is because his mom died and his dad was a jerk who raised him to be just like him. Literally one sentence to sum up why the Beast is a jerk and everyone feels bad for him and forgives him.
They couldn’t even come up with that much for Gaston? Both Maleficent and Lady Tremaine were given sympathetic backstories, but they couldn’t come up with anything for Gaston?
That’s just lazy writing. Why not give us some insight into what his upbringing was like? Maybe his dad owned the tavern before him and was a drunk who abused Gaston and told him he’d never amount to anything, which caused Gaston to build himself up as a self-defense mechanism or to prove to his father he was wrong about him. Or perhaps he had loving parents who spoiled him and made him believe he was God’s gift to the world. Or maybe he was humble and the complete opposite of who he is now before the war, but becoming a local hero inflated his ego and changed him (as fame often does). Actually, I would have preferred this backstory. Along with that we could have been told that LeFou had been his friend before he changed and that’s why he still followed him even though Gaston mistreated him- because he knows who Gaston really is and he believes Gaston can be that man again. And they could have even used this to redeem Gaston in the end. But, really, any backstory that would have given him depth would have been fine. Just give us some sort of story.
One change they made to Gaston that I didn’t like was they made him a killer. Yes, I understand killing is essential when fighting in a war, but instead of using that to give Gaston depth (that maybe he was plagued by guilt for killing people or killing people gave him PTSD), they just used it to show he actually enjoyed killing. In the animated movie, he enjoyed hunting, but he never killed a person. Some people would argue that that’s not true because he killed the Beast, but Gaston didn’t know the Beast was a person. Had he had known the Beast was a person, would it have made any difference? In the animated movie, maybe. In the live-action movie, definitely not. And that’s a problem. The live-action movie made Gaston into, basically, a murderer and that’s not who Gaston was. Being a skilled fighter and a war hero is definitely a great addition to Gaston’s character (and I would love to know more about his time as a captain in the war), but making him a murderer just doesn’t sit right with me.
Now for what I liked about the movie. Which is pretty much everything else.
First, visually, the movie was absolutely beautiful. I saw it in 3D and I’m so glad I did. This movie was obviously made for 3D (especially the Be Our Guest musical number). The ballroom was not as unique as the one in the animated movie, but it, and the rest of the castle, was stunning. While the village looked more like a play set, the castle was everything I wanted it to be.
They filled in some of the plot holes. They explained the Beast’s age and why no one in the village knew about the castle and prince. We find out where Belle and Maurice moved to the village from and what happened to Belle’s mom (no, she is not the enchantress). Some fans pointed out in the animated movie that Gaston chose to go up against the Beast with just a bow and arrow when he had a gun; this issue was fixed in the live-action movie.
Obviously I am not one those people who have decided to boycott the movie because LeFou is gay. I’m actually excited that Disney gave us an openly gay character. In the finale scene, LeFou dances with another man. This moment lasts about two seconds. That is the extent of the gay scene in the movie. People are boycotting the movie over two seconds in a movie that is over 2 hours long. And absolutely nothing about the scene suggests they’re trying to “shove gay down [your] throats” or make the children who watch it gay.
It’s really a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. I honestly wish they hadn’t told us about it ahead of time because everyone has blown it completely out of proportion. I, personally, thought it was cute and it made me happy. LeFou obviously cares a great deal about Gaston and he spends the whole movie being pushed around and walked all over by him, so it was really nice to see him get his own little happy ever after. He certainly deserved it.
While we’re on the topic of LeFou, I liked that they didn’t make him the nasty little weasel he was in the animated movie. From the get-go it was obvious LeFou was not a villain. He was Gaston’s sidekick simply because Gaston was his friend and he care about him. Though LeFou made a pretty bad decision (no spoilers), he was redeemed.
One thing that was different from the animated movie that I’m glad they changed was the servants telling Belle about the curse and how everyone (including the Beast) is actually human. This completely destroys the whole idea of this movie being about beastiality. She did not, however, know how to break the curse. Though, she did want to help them break it.
In my previous blog, and earlier in this review, I mentioned I was nervous that Emma Watson was going to change Belle too much, but she didn’t. Though Watson’s acting wasn’t that great, Belle was still the same character we all love. Which was a major relief.
There are not enough adjectives to describe how amazing Kevin Kline was in this movie. Other than Luke Evans as Gaston, Kevin Kline as Maurice was the best performance in the movie. I was expecting Maurice to have a small part like in the animated movie, but he had a larger role and I’m so glad because he was just so great. If you’re on the fence about this movie, see it if only for Kevin Kline. It’s totally worth it.
Unpopular opinion alert: I have never really been a fan of Angela Lansbury. I know, I’m a failure as a Beauty and the Beast fan. She did a great job as the voice of Mrs. Potts, but I’m just not a fan of her singing. So, to be completely honest, I actually preferred Emma Thompson’s cover of Beauty and the Beast over Angela Lansbury’s original. I’m sure I’m alone in this thinking, but I don’t care. I love Emma Thompson.
Continuing with the soundtrack: Josh Groban! A new song was written for the live-action movie called Evermore. Sung by Dan Stevens in the movie and Josh Groban during the end credits. It’s a good song, made better by Josh Groban. The fact that Josh Groban is even on this soundtrack makes my heart happy.
How they could get singers like Josh Groban and Celine Dion on the soundtrack, but allow Ariana Grande and John Legend butcher the most important song in the movie, I have no idea. If I could have heard Josh Groban singing Beauty and the Beast, I could have died a happy girl. But, no, they had to go with singers who are “popular” instead of talented.
The musical numbers for Be Our Guest and Gaston were so much fun! I loved that they added dancing and even a little sword fight during Gaston.
(I did not, however, love that Gaston didn’t rip open his shirt to prove that every last inch of him was, in fact, covered with hair.)
Let’s talk about Gaston.
He’s my favorite character in the animated movie, as well as in this movie (he’s also my all-time favorite Disney villain). Despite him not ripping open his shirt and basically being a murderer (can’t win ’em all, I guess), Gaston was still awesome. Luke Evans was a perfect fit. He looked and acted the part perfectly.
His singing voice was not as deep as Richard White’s, but it was more intense and villainous sounding. I had never heard him sing before, so I didn’t know what to expect. But, I was not disappointed.
He could have stuck a little closer to the original character and showed off his muscles more (he’s got biceps to spare and we saw none of said biceps).
One thing I never liked about the animated movie is during the fight scene on the roof, when the Beast is holding Gaston over the side of the roof, Gaston suddenly becomes a coward.
Gaston is many (arguably unpleasant) things, but a coward is not one of them. What I loved about this movie, though that still happens and Gaston says the same lines, he doesn’t beg for his life and suddenly become a coward. He knows the Beast could kill him right then if he wanted, but instead of begging, he says it in a way that’s obvious that he’s trying to manipulate the Beast and appeal to his “kind and gentle” side. And, of course, it totally works and allows Gaston to get his “kill shot” in. And it was great. The whole roof fight scene was awesome.
I was rooting for Gaston. (Kill the Beast!)
But, sadly, we all know how the movie ends.
Just before the movie my brother and I talked about how we hope Gaston gets the girl in the end, but honestly Emma Watson was just so boring and annoying at times (and not as pretty as the entire village made her out to be), and he could have done a lot better than her.
Though I do love the love story in Beauty and the Beast, I would have loved the movie just as much if Gaston killed Belle and the Beast, took over the castle and had his own happily ever after.
Either ending works for me. (It’s probably a good thing I wasn’t one of the writers on this movie. Though, if I had been, Gaston would have gotten a backstory and some depth. All in favor of a Gaston “origin” movie, say ‘aye’. Aye.)
All in all, I loved this movie and will be seeing it in theaters again.