After many months of waiting in suspense, I saw Beauty and the Beast on the day it came out. The visuals and acting were top-notch, the music was amazing, and there were many nods to the original cartoon. Emma Watson, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, medieval fantasy and a musical combined with an old fairy tale classic? I couldn’t ask for more. And though the movie itself did my expectations justice, I still have my disappointments. Watching Beauty and the Beast in the theater with real people acting out a story from a cartoon made me approach the story with a different perspective. While my fangirl self was satiated, my ever whirring writer’s brain noticed that something in the story quality was amiss.
Fabulous movie casting!
Dan Stevens nailed it as the actor for the Beast. His voice was perfect. He actually had a solo that the original cartoon didn’t and while it was personally humorous to see a Beast singing, I also thought it was well done and participated strongly in the Beast’s character development.
Ewan McGregor was epic!!! I watched the movie knowing that he was Lumiere, the candelabra, but I nearly forgot every time I heard him talk and sing with that French accent. I was bursting with pure joy when he sang “Be Our Guest,” and completely forgot that the voice once belonged to the legendary jedi who once mentored Vader.
Emma Watson did a great acting job, but though she’s a wonderful actress, she’s not a great singer. And yet my mind wasn’t allowed to focus on the tad bit of disappointment because of all the epicness that was going along at the same time.
I enjoyed every moment during the song “Belle,” what with all the village quaintness, the bookstore, Belle’s father, her reaction at the Beast’s library, and ...
GASTON!!! I have to say, I did not like the original character of Gaston but Luke Evans was FANTASTIC. In fact, he is one of my main favorite things about the movie. It’s hilarious to see my favorite hero from the Hobbit movies play this cocky character. And either he has a good voice or the lip syncing was done well.
LeFou was probably the only thing I disliked about the movie. I loved that Josh Gad, the voice for Olaf from Frozen, played the sidekick character, but I would cringe inwardly every time he came into the picture; his gay characteristics were fairly obvious. He was a good actor and singer; the song for Gaston in the tavern turned out to be wonderful, what with all the singing and dancing on tables!!!
And must I also mention Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Kevin Kline, and the rest? They were all amazing. Fantastic. Incredible. Hats off to the majority of the cast, you made my year.
Lovely Itty Bitty Details
Accuracy must have been the director’s priority for the time period and setting; it was all very realistic, magic aside. Everyone in the Beast’s castle were painted to look like dolls wearing ridiculous wigs. Of course, everything was so bright and cheerful that any reminder of a horror movie was thrown aside (painted, powdered humans are just creepy). But I appreciated this nod to the time period in France and the accuracy with which it was portrayed.
Each shot of the movie was so aesthetically pleasing to my delicate, artistic senses. Everything from the village, the green hills, the insides of the huts, the castle, the gardens, the woods, the glitter on Belle’s gown to the fire in the dining room to the *throat tightens* library. And all the singing, stomping, and mobs and dancing! It was all so magical, and put together so well that I simply couldn’t hold myself together. Cue a few tears.
Story: Strange but Pretty
The story for Beauty and the Beast is a fascinating one, but it is also a fairy tale. I had never paid the story itself much attention at all when I was younger; I was just in for all the singing and dancing and books and pretty dresses. But when the time came for the movie to come out, I heard rumors not only about a gay character, but about the story. How creepy and strange and unhealthy it is for a children’s Disney movie to portray a story about a girl who falls in love with, well, an animal. A beast. Of course, she falls in love with the human inside of him, but though the story’s legitimacy is questionable, I looked forward to how the movie would portray it.
And I was pleased with the outcome. Rather than just giving the story out blindly, there was something new that was added to the plot, among other details that made the relationship seem more real, in a way. The Beast tells Belle about his past when he was a human, and Belle’s eyes are opened to the way things used to be; thus the sympathy felt towards the Beast. And Beast in turn sees Belle’s backstory, which we knew nothing of before. He shows her a book that will take her anywhere she wishes. She chooses the house where she was born, just outside the city of Paris. Once they’re both magically transported there, we see the real reason for Belle and her father living in the small, “provincial town.” Being a writer, I loved how the movie fit in these backstories of the main characters. I learned more about Belle and the Beast and thus felt more of a connection with each of them. I rooted for them more than I thought I would. Things started to actually make sense. In this story where a girl falls in love with a beast, a bit of character development shed more light on the “why”, even though the “how” is still clouded with fantasy, magic, and imagination that doesn’t fit in the real world.
Thoughts on the Homosexuality Portrayed
When it comes to LeFou and his dancing partner, I’m slightly ticked off. What? Were you expecting me to be happy about the addition of some gay romance in a Disney movie? A film that a lot of kids are going to see and notice that there are two men dancing together? (Ugh, LeFou doesn’t even deserve to be Gaston’s sidekick.) Now I’m not one of those angry conservative Christians (actually, I am a conservative Christian, just not angry) who rails against the very presence of homosexuality in any movie at all, much less a Disney movie they were looking forward to seeing with their kids. I see it as something thrown in to appeal to the adults who are watching and who support, um, other views. Picture 5-year-olds pointing out and saying “oh, those guys are gay” or “this is morally repulsive, this homosexuality is disgraceful.” They’d probably just laugh at how a man likes getting covered in powder and make up and, well, mom will just have to wait until they’re a little older to explain to them society’s complexities of right and wrong.
Homosexuality is sin, and it happens in the real world. Just like physical pain and abuse and starvation and murder. All those things are also shown in Disney family films. There is more extremity to homosexuality, I will admit, but now that the law has passed, we are left to our own devices in what we believe, how we react, and how we explain it to our children.
THE MUSIC, THE SCORE, THE SONGS
It’s hard to focus on the film score when you’re watching a musical; the songs the characters sing take the spotlight of the score and so I didn’t pay much attention to Alan Menken’s genius. I have to say, though, Menken is one of my top composers and he has done so many epic scores for nearly all my favorite Disney movies. The musical songs were wonderful and made my heart happy. So similar to the original cartoon’s and yet different enough to fit a movie with real life actors. There were a couple new songs added in (I believe from the Broadway Beauty and the Beast), “Aria,” “Days in the Sun,” and “Evermore” (sung by Stevens as Beast). During the end credits (which I unfortunately couldn’t stay for because I was late for an important date) the songs “How Does a Moment Last Forever” and “Evermore” play, though Josh Groban sings “Evermore” for the end credits. I liked these additions, but the original songs hold a special place in my heart.
Well, that’s a wrap! I had so many feelings for this movie (as I do for all other fandoms) and they were hard to put into words. But I did it. I wrote the review. So, what are your thoughts? Seen it yet? What did you love, dislike, regret, hope for? I’ll be looking for comments and I hope to see some down there soon. Thanks for reading!