Disney’s recent string of live adaptations of their animated classics have been a bit hit or miss; I thoroughly enjoyed “Cinderella” and the first “Alice inWonderland”, however “Maleficent” left me utterly disappointed and I didn’t bother seeing the Alice sequel (disagree with me at your leisure).
When “Beauty and the Beast” released last week, I didn’t quite know what I would get. The ads and teaser trailers made the film look amazing, and the snippets that Disney had released via social media were promising. But then again, the same could be said for Maleficent, and you already know how I feel about that film.
Well, I saw Beauty and the Beast last Friday and I did not leave the theater disappointed.
In fact – dare I say it – I enjoyed it more than the animated version.
Beauty and the Beast is by no means a “perfect movie;” there was enough for my theater companion (in this case my girlfriend) and I to discuss.
First and foremost, I struggled with some of the music. Actually, not so much the music as it was the voices – and that’s not a bash on any of the actors.
At times, the singing sounded blatantly auto-tuned. I’m not naïve to deny that practically every voice in the entertainment medium (if not all) has had some kind of technological help along the way. In some moments however, two specific characters – Emma Watson’s Belle and Josh Gad’s Lefou – sounded extremely unnatural and almost robotic, despite having decent if not lovely voices naturally.
My only other complaint with this film is that at times the story seemed to drag on at an excruciating slow pace. While the animated film may not be my first pick for a Disney movie anyways, I never found myself wishing for the film to “move along already.”
On the plus side of the movie, let’s start with the obvious: it looks absolutely gorgeous. The costumes are stunning, the sets and scenery are breathtaking, and Dan Stevens’s Beast doesn’t strike me as obviously CGI.
I also enjoyed the smaller individuals that make up the castle’s cursed inhabitants. These characters translate well in cartoon form, but I was skeptical at how convincing they would be in live action. However, everyone from Lumiere the candelabra to Chip the Tea Cup was charming in their own unique ways, save perhaps Mrs. Potts who I personally found a bit creepy.
And finally, there were three individuals – one singularly and one duo – who I believed stole the show.
Let’s start with the “Beauty” in Beauty and the Beast.
While Belle has always been a strong minded, intelligent character who didn’t need to rely on her beauty, Emma Watson provides an attitude and spunkiness that gives the lead protagonist even more strength, power, and integrity.
And then there’s Gaston - who has always been one of my favorite Disney villains – and his loyal sidekick Lefou.
Due to the very nature of his character, Gaston is over-the-top. Despite this, Luke Evans maintains his characters massive “machismo,” keeping Gaston just as cocky and masculine without being overly corny.
Josh Gad also does well at Evans’s side, providing just enough humor to keep Lefou entertaining without – again – becoming overly corny. The addition of what seems to be (minor spoiler) a bit of a conscience also adds a great balance to the duo.
Beauty and the Beast is an elegant film that will please all generations, regardless of their familiarity with the original animated movie. Its strong characters and beautiful design make for a wonderful evening out at the movies.