Friday, June 9, 2017

The live action Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful film worthy of its predecessor

When Disney announced a live action version of the 1991 animated hit, Beauty and the Beast, I was excited. I was even more excited to see Emma Watson as Belle. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see it in theaters. Now that the move is on Blu-ray and DVD, I eagerly checked it out. The movie was beautifully done. It is not a word for word, scene for scene remake. It is a stunning homage to the beloved animated film while being its own film. The cast and the music were amazing. Alan Menken returns with new wonderful music. The film wasn’t without its critics though.

First, the cast fit their characters. The entire cast was wonderful. They made the characters their own without trying to copy or imitate the original cast which they shouldn’t try to do in the first place. Emma Watson had Belle’s spunk and uniqueness which helped her stand out in her tiny village. Dan Stevens as the Beast had his ferociousness as well as his vulnerability. I enjoyed Dan Stevens’ Beast much more than Robby Benson’s Beast. I’m not really sure how to explain the difference, maybe it was Stevens’ growl or maybe his British accent added a flair that Benson’s voice could not. Ewan McGregor as the playful Lumiere was great and Ian McKellen was perfect as the uptight Cogsworth. Emma Thompson had Mrs. Potts’ motherly gentleness and Luke Evans had Gaston’s vainness and cockiness. The movie even expands on Gaston’s cruelness and his desire to do anything to get what he wants and thinks he deserves.

The music was wonderful as usual. There were three new songs. “How does a moment last forever” which is sung by Maurice (played by Kevin Kline) and later by Belle. The Beast has his own song, “Evermore.” Lastly, “Days in the Sun,” a song the cast sings about life as humans before the curse. It’s much better than the animated song “Human Again” which was kept out of the original theatrical version and added to the special edition DVD release.  My favorite lyric was from “Days in the Sun.” Belle sings it as she watches the staff hope and dream of being human again. She sings “How in the midst of all this sorrow/Can so much hope and love endure.” The Beast’s song is a powerful ballad as he releases Belle from her captivity. He’s resolved to the fact that he loves Belle enough to let her go, knowing it would mean being a beast forever. He laments that she will remain in his heart forever. It’s a powerful moment in the movie.

No movie is without its critics especially a Disney classic as beloved as Beauty and the Beast. One major criticism is that the movie relied too much on the animated version. My answer to this is: yes, it’s a live action version of the animated film. However, if it was its own version of the classical tale, people who be groaning and moaning about the missing elements of the original film. The movie is so cherished by fans that no matter what some would have found fault with whatever version they decided to make. Another criticism came from the controversy of LeFou having a gay moment in the film. The way some people talked, you would have thought it was very explicit. In the words of someone who saw the film in the theaters, ‘blink and you will miss.” That is truly the case, if you weren’t looking for it, you would have missed it. It is tiny, only seconds long, and isn’t what I would call a gay moment.

I loved this movie. I’m just sorry that I wasn’t able to see it in theaters. The cast was amazing. The music was outstanding. The new songs fit and will move you. The DVD will sit proudly next to its predecessor on my shelf. It is everything I wanted to see in a live action film of my favorite Disney film and much more. I highly recommend you check out this version of Beauty and the Beast, if you haven’t already done so.