My dear readers, you visit my little corner of the internet because you know that I will give my honest and uncensored opinion. And after coming back from seeing Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast, a film I have looked forward to since it was first announced, I am here to tell you…
Just so you know, there won’t be any spoilers in this review (though I might post one later that’s spoiler-inclusive if you wish). My thoughts are completely positive, so don’t expect any Belle-bashing here. I had no negative thoughts during this film, no hesitations. I cried a lot, I laughed a lot, it was a roller-coaster. And it could not have been done better.
The first thing you need to know is that as a child, I related deeply to Belle. She was my favorite Disney princess because I felt close to her, I felt I was like her. A bookworm who wants to escape into far off lands? That was my childhood. I never had a lot of friends. And even now, on a Saturday night, you’re more likely to find me with my nose stuck in a book than hanging out with people.
Disney’s animated version of Beauty and the Beast was one I watched countless times, and still do. This live action version…I think both the negative and positive reviews are biased, at least to some extent. Your opinion of this movie, I believe, will be partially determined by your attachment to the tale itself. If you’re like me, you will probably love it as deeply as I do. If you didn’t watch the original, or wasn’t in love with it, you may not feel as strongly. Keep that in mind.
Disney kept very true to their original version, and I was so, so pleased. Many expected this live action film to be a remake, or a reboot, but it is neither. It is simply a retelling, a live action version of the film we know and love. Now, don’t get me wrong. The script isn’t exact. There are scenes and songs that weren’t in the original, but they don’t take away. They are subtle, they flow naturally, and feel as if they belong there. We get a deeper insight into both Belle and the Beast’s pasts, and it’s really quite enlightening.
Regardless of the story, I think the one thing everyone can agree on is the true majesty of the sets. When working with animation, you have fewer restraints. But with live action, these sets actually have to be built, or at least CGI’d. But the Beauty and the Beast team decided to make as much of the movie as real as possible, so most of the sets you see were actually built! It makes the experience all the more inviting, and yes, a little aggravating. I couldn’t have been the only one dying to walk through those halls!
You’ve probably heard many mixed opinions about Emma Watson as Belle. But I am here to set the record straight. No one, and I mean no one, could have played that part better. Watson brings a real and very human strength to the character. Some describe her as cold, but the reality? We are so used to seeing princesses dolled up and overly, stereotypically bubbly that we are not used to seeing them as actual human beings. And that is exactly what Belle is. She is quiet but brave. A bookworm who is a romantic. At times stubborn, at other times patient. And Watson captures every aspect perfectly.
But Watson was not alone in her greatness. Dan Stevens plays the Beast, both in human and beast form! Thanks to the magic of motion capture and some incredible artists, that is in fact Stevens the entire way through. He is completely believable as the Beast, making us both fear him and love him. He shows his human side even as the Beast and despite the voice alteration, it doesn’t at any point feel cheesy. An amazing feat.
Luke Evans was a great choice for Gaston. He is more realistic than the animated version, and definitely reminded me of a few misogynists that I’ve met. Despite this, he is able to make you laugh and cringe all at once. The infamous song named after him is utterly enjoyable and you’ll be downloading it the moment you get home. Evans wanted people to love Gaston in the beginning, to be amused by him, but loathe him in the end. He succeeded. And of course, we can’t forget his trusty friend, LeFou, played by the hilarious Josh Gad. He is entertaining, relatable, and probably one of the funniest characters in the film.
Okay, I know that most of you are wondering. What is the gay scene? Is it big? Is it in the beginning or end? Will I know it when it happens? As I said, I’m making this spoiler free. But here’s what I can tell you. You may not know the gay scene when it happens. In fact, many times throughout the film you will find yourself thinking, “Wait, was that it?”, and that’s okay. The scene is brief, understated, and that’s what makes it good. The film does not exaggerate this character. LeFou is like anyone else, and his feelings for Gaston are made clear throughout the film, just maybe not in the way you’d expect. It’s exactly the same as a woman pining over a man. They made it feel real, and I applaud them for that.
I thought Sir Ian McKellen as Cogsworth would steal the spotlight, but no! It was Ewan McGregor as Lumiere that really captured my heart. I’m not going to lie, I felt more than a little charmed! Emma Thompson is an endearing Mrs. Potts and Chip is too cute for words. I could go on and on, believe me, but trust me when I say that there was not a single flaw with this cast. And the singing is definitely up to par.
About five minutes in, the opening song begins to play and Emma Watson starts singing. I didn’t expect it, I didn’t even know why, but my eyes started to well up. I started crying. It would not be the last time in the film, and I knew that, but I didn’t expect to feel so emotional and overwhelmed so early in. But really, I should have. Emma Watson was the perfect Belle. She was my Belle. And I was seeing her brought to life. This character, this woman I related to, this girl that was just like me, and here she was. The classic ballroom dance also had me drowning in tears, in the best way possible.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer perfection of this film. Disney nailed it. And I feel rather blessed to have been able to see it on its opening weekend. If you’re not a fan of Disney, well, I honestly don’t know if this film is for you. It’s a magical fairy tale that feels real, without losing its magic. But what I can say is if you loved the original, you’re going to adore this retelling. I could write about this film for hours, but suffice it to say that I can’t think of a better way to spend my day off than by watching, and telling you, about this incredible journey.
As always, thanks for reading! And feel free to geek out with me in the comments!
Sincerely, Fiction’s Mistress