When the credits started rolling and the lights started to come up after watching Beauty and the Beast on opening day, I reached for my phone and started to type a FB status update. I quickly questioned what I was about to type, and then I listened to my gut and went with it…
I liked the script for the live action version better than the animated version.
I questioned myself for a few reasons. 1) You’re not supposed to fall in love with the live action remake if you idolized the animation version. You’re supposed to join the online trolls and make fun of Emma Watson’s singing voice or some other nasty waste of time comment. 2) Was I a true Disney fan if I loved the script of the live action version more?
I know it seems silly that I sit and think about this stuff or even worry about it, but I consider myself a loyal Disney fan. After I posted my status update, I realized that me loving the script for the live action version more wasn’t a sign that I’m suckered into the whole ‘live action revolution’ or that I’m a lesser Disney fan or anything of the sort. All it means, is that I love good storytelling. Plain and simple. I love a good story. I love it when characters are flawed and you can still stand by them. I love it when a character is placed in a new world and has to grow and change to find their place in that world. That is good storytelling. And this movie has it. And so much more.
Before I launch into my review (Which includes a TON of spoilers–and yes, there’s spoilers. I know it’s a tale as old as time but they did their job by telling a good story so there’s spoilers. I’ll warn you when I reach those spoilers. You’re good for right now.), I’m gonna put out two small fires.
Why did Disney even need to re-make it? It was perfect as a live action film! Why does every Disney animated film need to be a live action film?
It needs to be re-made into live action by Disney…because if Disney doesn’t do it, than somebody else will. And if somebody else does, it causes major storyline and branding confusion. Think about it. When I was a kid, people would go around saying, “I love those Disney stories. You know the ones? Cinderella. Snow White. The Little Mermaid.” People weren’t going around saying, “I love those stores that Disney adapted from Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson.” When you think ‘Cinderella,’ you think Disney. For Disney to protect its assets in the fairytale biz, they have to be the ones re-making these classic stories into live action. If they don’t do it, other studios can make live action versions of classic fairytales. And no, there’s nothing wrong with that, but from a business standpoint, it gets hard to keep explaining which brands are yours. Remember Peter Pan with Jeremy Sumpter? You know how many people assumed that was a Disney movie? A lot. Let me tell you.
But Beauty and the Beast is a masterpiece! It’s perfect!!!!!!!
And I agree with you. It’s a gorgeous, well-sung, beautiful story that taps into so many themes and it has a leading lady who isn’t a princess and who is tough and independent and yes, it is all of those things. Trust, me, I’m not raving about the new movie to take away from a movie that I loved so damn much. Here’s what I will say: I re-watched the animated Beauty and the Beast a couple weeks ago, and was shocked at how many holes in the plot there were. As a child, I didn’t care whatsover. I just cared that everything got fixed before the final petal fell. But as an adult, I got giddy with excitment. I thought to myself, you don’t need to necessarily re-make a movie, especially a movie that is a classic and a work of art, but if you are going to go ahead and re-make it anyway, I hope you take into consideration the holes in the plot as an opportunity to make this re-make your own instead of a copy. And that’s exactly what they did. I’M GIDDY, you guys. GIDDY. That is exactly what they did.
SPOILER WARNING. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE AND DON’T WANT ANYTHING RUINED, CLOSE OUT OF THE TAB. YOU MIGHT ALREADY KNOW THE ENDING, BUT I’M GONNA SPOIL LIKE EVERY NEW DETAIL THAT I LOVED SO HERE WE GOOOO…IF YOU FEEL SO INCLINED, FEEL FREE TO LIKE OR COMMENT ON THIS BLOG IF YOU’RE LEAVING US EARLY.
Ok, here’s my review, finally. It’s lengthy. But detailed. And if you’re hoping that I’m going to be a jerk and make fun of Emma Watson’s singing, go elsewhere. I have nothing but lovely things to say.
I started losing my shit about 30 seconds into the film. Maybe it’s because I never would’ve thought that I would get to re-live a part of my childhood in theaters in this way. Also maybe because I quit drinking about 5 months ago and I feel feelings for the first time in a decade and its incredibly intense and I cry all the time at the tiniest thing. But honestly, it was the beauty of the movie. First off, the world building is incredible. In a instant, we get a sneak peek into the Prince’s home life. A life of parties and wondernment. The prince, played by Dan Stevens, is gorgeous. He’s the perfect person to embody this character. He’s spoiled, yes, but there’s so much more than that. His lavish lifestyle has actually had a negative impact on the town. So, his life sentence to become a beast doesn’t just have to do with that one moment when the enchantress arrives, it has to do with how he has been living his life. The film opens with a masquerade party. It’s exactly like something out of Phantom. Audra McDonald is singing. I’m giddy and crying and having a meltdown at how beautiful everything is. And come to think of it, the Beast is quite like a Phantom figure in this adapation…more on that later. First thing that I loved about this movie, was that in this simple opening scene, they clarified a couple things: The prince is not a child (he came off as younger in the opening narrated portion of the original), his parents are definitely nowhere to be seen. It is assumed that they have passed away. The prince seems to be recklessly running his castle without a thought to the needs of others. And when the enchantress arrives, we get a quick peak of Chip and Mrs. Potts as humans, and Chip is definitely a child (and the same age at the end of the film). So with the logic of this story, the characters who are under enchantment freeze at the same human age throughout the story.
I promise you this won’t be a scene-by-scene analysis. I’ll try skipping ahead. I’ll try bullet points…
- “Little Town” is such a wonderful number–especially the moment in the library. Emma Watson is impeccably cast in this role. You watch her and feel like you’re watching a real girl. She feels younger than the original Belle. She feels less cocky. It seems like she has a soft spot for this town, and she understands why she’s in it instead of loathing it. It’s her relationship with her father that keeps her there.
- Kevin Kline—love love LOVED his Maurice. Maurice isn’t an inventor. He’s more of an artist. And boy, does this character have a past. I always had a theory that the death of Belle’s mother was the reason that Belle and Maurice left Paris to move to a smaller town in France. I always felt like Belle was kind of the new kid in town who’s intellect and curiousity would’ve been better suited to a large town. And at heart, Belle is not just a city girl, but an adventurer. And I was right!! Belle wasn’t born in the small town, she was born in Paris and had to leave because her mom had the plague. Her father wanted her to be safe. Her father wanted her to have a happy healthy life. Maurice feels trapped.
In fact, this is very much a movie about being trapped. (And no, I’m not doing a review on this film being a story of Stolkholm Syndrome. I think when people make that comparison, it’s just way too easy. But Erika, the plot is the epitomy of Stolkholm Syndrome, you ignorant fool! And you call yourself a feminist. Ugh, internet, shut up! I mean, I’m going to try digging a little deeper than the surface. Afterall, isn’t that what this movie is all about?) Anyway, this is a movie about every single character feeling trapped. But not physically in a location. It’s about being trapped in a mindset. It’s about Belle wanting adventure in the great wide somewhere, but being trapped not knowing what her roots are. Not knowing who her mother was. It’s about Maurice feeling trapped in his role of GateKeeper to Belle. About carrying the burden of his secret to protect Belle and figuring out how to be a supportive and nurturing father through all of that. It’s about the Beast being trapped in a label of ‘selfish’ and forced into a life of solitude. Belle isn’t the prisoner of the Beast. The Beast is the prisoner of the town. The Beast is trapped in his feelings of regret. The Beast is trapped into thinking that he won’t be able to change. The Beast is trapped in overcoming not only the fact that he lost his mother as a child, but he is trapped trying to grow into a man who is different from the man his father raised him to be. The backstory with the parents is incredibly moving, and paints the Beast as more of a Phantom character. A tragic character. A ghost of who he could’ve been. When I was a child, I thought that it was unfair that the people who work in the castle also got enchanted.
And this re-make completely adds a new layer of Bambi levels of sadness to it all. Mrs. Potts admits that everyone working in the castle knew what a terrible person the father was, and how the father was trying to raise the son to be like him after the mom died. No one in the house spoke up for the son or stood up to the dad. So in this re-make, the household staff is also trapped deeply by regret. In fact, they try numerous times to make up for it by standing up for the Beast to Belle.
Things that made me teary-eyed or full-blown sobbing:
- Mrs. Potts confession that they weren’t there for the Prince when he was a boy. There is something so incredibly moving about that moment.
- After the final battle scene, Lumiere and Cogsworth start to say goodbye to each other. As a child, I assumed that when the final petal dropped, that the Beast would stay a Beast and that all the cute tupperware could still talk to each other. Seeing a graveyard of deceased antiques for even a moment was heartbreaking.
- The Beast gets a solo. I repeat the Beast gets a solo. “Evermore” is haunting. Uplifting. Captivating. Terrifying. All in one breath. It’s his 11 o’clock number that makes you realize that he’s a tortured Phantom of a character. It’s brilliant. All of the new music in the film is. It adds so much. Christ, I’m crying again. Screw it.
- “Days in the Sun” replaces “Human Again” and the choice in doing that is brilliant. It is such a sweet yet somber moment of the film. A gorgeously sung ensemble performance. Brilliant.
- There’s a new gadget introduced in the re-make–aside from getting just a mirror, the Beast also gets a map that can transport him through his minds eye anywhere he wants to go. So he lets Belle use it to take them somewhere. It’s Belle, so you assume that she will take us on a crazy adventure. But in one sweet moment, she takes the Beast to the home where she grew up. Instead of visiting somewhere new, she visits a place that is familiar to see it through new eyes, and that scene is also the intro to a new song, “How Does a Moment Last Forever.” One of Emma’s top moments in the film. It’s heartbreaking. She’s heartbreaking through the whole damn film. And tough. And at the same exact moment. I don’t know how she does it. She can be crying and she is as tough as a stone wall in the same moment. It’s her grace. She’s impeccable. She’s just an impeccable Belle.
- The romance between Lumiere and Plumette was beautiful. It didn’t come off as simply a flirtation (which it did in the original). It was more of a deepened romance. Two people who had seen each other through a lot and just wanted to come out the other end of it ok and together.
- The finale: Overwhelming for a billion reasons. First off, the thing that was never explored in the original, was what happened to the families of the house staff when they suddenly went missing one day? In the ending of the remake, the angry townspeople were exhausted from fighting and laying all over the front garden of the palace. When everyone comes back to life, there are full-blown reunions that are happening. For instance, Cogsworth has a wife who lives in town. Mr. Potts had been separated from his wife for years due to the enchantment.
All Things Delightful
- I loved the hats. There are so many great hats. And like all of Emma Watson’s costumes. Especially the one she’s wearing when she first arrives at the castle. With that cape and gaucho pants. Such a badass.
- LOVED Josh Gad’s portrayal of Le Fou. I love that Le Fou is an openly gay character. I love that (spoiler) Le Fou isn’t the only openly gay character. In fact, one of the best moments comes from when one of the townsmen gets into a fight with Garderobe, emerges from the closet in a gown, and grins and saunters off, only to end up with Le Fou in the end. LOVED IT ALL. Here’s the thing I truly loved: The relationship between Le Fou and Gaston. I loved that Le Fou wasn’t the town idiot. I loved that he wasn’t bullied by Gaston. I love that they actually have respect for each other. It adds so much more weight to the moment where Maurice asks for Le Fou’s testimony that would bash his best friend.
- I LOVED Gaston, played by Luke Evans. One of the best casting choices. I was literally swooning. He is the epitomy of how I always envisioned this character. It would’ve been easy to be a nasty villain, and he never played it that way. He never just got by on just his looks. He displayed a lot of vulnerability, and when Maurice claimed a Beast took Belle, Gaston actually goes with him without poking fun of him. In fact, Gaston only starts to act like a villain once he finally gets his motive: Which is that Maurice tells him that he will never marry Belle. And in that moment, Le Fou reminds Gaston of his past experience in war, and suddenly so much about Gaston becomes clear and instantly likeable. Of course he’s still the villain. But he’s not so much of a bully in this one. There’s so much more to him.
- I loved how much they utilized Audra McDonald throughout the film. Her voice creates the bookends for the entire story, and the finale absolutely blew me away.
- I love that Belle runs off to save her father whilst wearing her yellow ball gown. I was like, ‘You better, hustle, lady!’ Freaking amazing.
- On a similar note, I love how she straight up tossed the dress out and rode back to the castle wearing a petticoat.
Guys, I really loved this film to pieces. It told a great story. It paid tribute to the original, and it also tried some new stuff. And the new stuff worked. Bottom-line, the chemistry between Belle and the Beast was electric. Their love story was so genuine and innocent. I felt as if Belle had the freedom to leave the castle from the beginning, but she stayed. I felt like she wasn’t trying to change the Beast. I felt like the Beast wanted to change for her. I felt like Belle learned the biggest lesson of all: that the adventure in life isn’t in a faraway land or in a fairy tale book..sometimes the adventure is your life as it unfolds.
It truly is a tale as old as time. Everyone found that they could change. Everyone learned at some point that they were wrong. I hope you loved this enchanting piece as much as I did.