Thoughts on Live Action Beauty and the Beast

I will be the first to admit that I was skeptical of the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast (BATB). While I loved the live action Cinderella, the original was much older, and a live action remake made sense to keep the copyright alive and well. BATB is only 2 years older than me, why do we need to remake it?

After seeing it last night, I have to say, I get it now.

CONTAINS SPOILERS

(We all know the main overall plot here, but some people don’t want to know the small details they changed.)

For the first 10-15 minutes, I was convinced I had just wasted $10 on a movie ticket. The opening scene where the Beast is cursed is gorgeous, and this historical costuming and

Emma Watson’s singing voice isn’t necessarily terrible, it’s just extremely lackluster and doesn’t fit with Belle at all. The sequence for the first musical number “Belle” felt like it was trying entirely too hard to match up to the animated movie. Then slowly, the details started to mesh together to make a magical experience.

The scene where Maurice finds the castle was the turning point for me. Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Chip were a) perfectly cast and b) perfectly animated. When I saw the first trailer I was a little taken aback by their “real life” animated forms since they weren’t the friendlier cartoon versions I had grown accustomed to, but all doubts quickly subsided.

I’m not going to give you an entire plot recap, because like I said, we all know the general story here. I will, however, take the time to call out the slight changes and additions they did well, as well as a few highlights.

  • Overall, casting was perfect. I honestly forgot Ewan McGregor was Lumiere until the end credits, as he fit the persona so well. Dan Stevens made me fall in love with the Beast a little bit. Emma Watson did make a perfect Belle in the end. And Luke Evans as Gaston… just perfect.
  • In this version, Maurice isn’t a crazy inventor. Instead, he’s a music box maker. In the opening scenes we learn small details about Belle’s mother and the fact she was seens as different, too. But, we don’t find out what happened to her until later.
  • The music (aside from Emma Watson’s singing) was superb. I was a little sad that “Human Again” was cut, but after seeing the movie it’s a little too happy of a song for the mood this particular version has. However, “Days in the Sun” gave me goosebumps. I see you sneaking in a song to show off Audra McDonald’s voice, Alan Menken. No shame. The one that took me by surprise was “Evermore”. I had listened to the Josh Groban version when it was released, but it doesn’t even compare to the raw emotion that is in the Dan Stevens version.
  • Beast gets a backstory. We finally understand why he’s this bitter teenager who only wants to party all the time and pushes people away. This story also includes why the servants were put under the spell, too. I won’t spoil that part, but the “we did nothing” dialogue between Belle and Mrs. Potts broke my heart a little.
  • The ballroom scene was better than I ever imagined. Emma Thompson’s version of Beauty and the Beast meshed perfectly with the dance. Some people are upset about Belle’s dress not being close enough to the animated version, but I think this version fits Emma’s Belle perfectly. Plus, the way it flowed both during the dance and when she was riding the horse away was gorgeous.

Overall, the film was definitely packed with the nostalgia of my childhood, while still presenting the story in a new light. The live action film is a little darker, a little edgier, and represents an entirely different era in Disney’s storytelling saga. While these remakes may seem like a grab for money, they aren’t bad movies. They’re unique interpretations of childhood classics. And I, for one, will continue to go see them.

(Header image source)

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