I recently made it over to the theater to finally see Beauty and the Beast. Usually I’m a little quicker to see the latest Disney movie, but I was actually a little afraid to see this adaptation because the animation is one of my favorite movies.
This review will only contain minor spoilers, if any, and nothing major. But if you’d prefer to know absolutely nothing about the movie, leave knowing I give it 3/5 stars.
I love Emma Watson. I was really excited when I’d first heard she’d been cast as Belle, and eagerly waited to see what would be released. My excitement dimmed when I heard she’d be doing her own vocals. In such a music-based film, I don’t feel like this is a great choice. Maybe they should have gone the Cinderella route and taken almost every song out of the film — although the original Beauty and the Beast soundtrack is so clever and catchy that would have been a shame. Still, they could have gone the way of most Disney princess movies and had separate vocals for words and songs. The utterly, over autotuned result jarred me out of the story with every passing song she was a part of. Because, of course, viewers are going to compare it to Paige O’Hara‘s gorgeous singing voice.
One of my favorite parts of the film was, surprisingly, Gaston. I liked his character even more than in the animated movie — ‘liked’ meaning that I thought it was well-developed and interesting, in that he’s completely insane, egotistical, and sexist. He didn’t even need a say a word — his facial expressions perfectly captured his disdain for everyone else, or situations that didn’t go quite his way.
I was a little disappointed that his groupies didn’t make much of an appearance, and a lot that could have been given to them was instead transferred over to LeFou. He was pretty funny, though, so I didn’t mind the extra screentime. And whereas it was interesting to see what was subtlety changed to obviously make LeFou gay, I hope Disney doesn’t use this as a cop-out with keeping diversity way, way in the background. They’ve been slowly building toward a show or movie that could have an LGBT+ main character . . . I’m still waiting for it.
Then there’s the Beast. His character felt slightly different from the animated version, too, probably because there was so much more background to the characters given here. You get an understanding of why he was cursed, but not only that — why he was such an awful person to begin with. Why he might want to change. Honestly, there were a few moments while he was getting to know Belle that he seemed utterly adorable by how simultaneously cocky and flustered he was. His design was pretty cool, too, though I’m still very confused by people who find him handsome.
Speaking of backstory, there’s some of Belle’s too, because everyone, everywhere, has always wondered what the heck happened to her mother. Don’t worry, friends, it’s revealed, though kind of in the most randomly magical of ways. It looks like there’s a separate book out about that, too, so maybe Disney just included it because they wanted the chance to sell something else. Much as I love them, I know they love money more than they love me. I literally had a dream last night where I accidentally made Bob Iger angry, so maybe that’s some kind of sign.
The castle staff were voiced wonderfully, with a special shoutout to Gandalf parading about as Cogsworth. Literally the perfect match — and that’s not sarcasm. The only thing that threw me off were the vaguely creepy and odd character designs. Cogsworth worked best, for me, with Lumiere a close second, followed by Mrs. Potts and Chip in dead last. Yeah, if Chip slid toward me in a creepily empty house, I would have run away too.
Last, but not least, can we talk about how disappointing Belle’s gold dress was? Especially after Cinderella had such a gorgeous live action take on the ballgown. It was pretty, yes, but nowhere near the jaw-dropping spectacle you expect from a classic princess.
This movie had its work cut out for it because it just makes it so easy to compare to something that came before it. When I could slip into the familiar story–like the scenes that were, word for word, exactly like the animation–I adored it. But this is probably the first Disney musical I walked out of where I wasn’t immediately compelled to buy the entire soundtrack. I mean, I saw Moana on Thanksgiving, bought the soundtrack an hour later, and have listened to it nearly every day since.
Still, I can’t wait to see what the other live action movies in the works will be like.
If you’ve seen the movie, what did you think?