Thursday, September 14, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  I was going to write "Be my guest to read this review" but I guarantee that thousands of other critics have started their reviews that way.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) – 4 out of 5

So, Disney is remaking all of their animated features into live-action films.  To some, this is a sign that they have lost all creativity and are just dipping their hands back into the well that made their name but to others (like me), this is an opportunity to see those classic animated features come to life in a new way…like in a living/life kinda way—you know, because it’s live-action (I really over explained that one).  The last live-action remake I watched (The Jungle Book) proved to be absolutely amazing and I was completely enthralled and blown away with the final product.  So, does this tale as old as time that features the songs that are old as rhyme compare?  Is Beauty and the Beast just as awesome with flesh and blood humans and a computer generated beast as it was when it was animated?  Yes, yes it is!

Trust me, it's great despite the fact that Beast has a "meh, it's okay" face here.

"Gaze upon me and weep for I am all-powerful!"
In a remote village in France, a young bookworm woman named Belle (Emma Watson) finds her common life to be a bit boring and is looking for more than just the local jacked up buffoon; Gaston (Luke Evans), trying to get her hand in marriage.  One night, her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) stumbles upon a great castle outside the village in the forest and is taken prisoner by a hideous beast inside.  Belle finds him and learns the beast (Dan Stevens) was once a selfish, arrogant prince who was cursed by an enchantress.  Because he had no love in his heart, he would remain a beast until he could love another and be loved in return.  However, like all great curses, there’s a time limited and a magical rose lies in the castle and when the final pedal falls and he hasn’t opened his heart to someone, he shall remain a beast forever and all his servants in the castle will become trapped as household items (did I mention that part?  Yeah, all his servants are talking house goods).  Can the beast overcome his anger and isolation to find love?  Can Belle overcome her fear of the beast?  Will the village and Gaston find out about the castle in the woods that holds the monster?

The villagers hated her because she could read and liked to learn.
Nowadays Belle would just have been mansplained until she quit social
media by a bunch of neckbeards saying "Well actually..."

First things first (because I can’t very well do the second thing first, that’s crazy), there was a bit of a shock to the system seeing Beauty and the Beast go live-action.  Unlike The Jungle Book, B and the B has had a strong foothold in my life and, alongside The Lion King, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid, was watched a lot in my younger days and, even now as a man in his mid-30s, I find myself singing the songs it contained.  So, seeing the familiar faces slightly differently, hearing the same songs done in a way that they’re changed just enough and seeing the visuals done in a way that honors what came before but in a live, grandiose way was a bit jarring and I was in real danger of having nostalgia take over and take me out of this movie (nostalgia can be so toxic).  While I will admit that it is really weird not having Angela Lansbury singing that signature theme but any potential toxicity from nostalgia was quickly washed away in that wonderful Disney magic.

How cold of a heart could a person have to not love the waltz scene?

I'm going to hazard a guess that Gaston is a hero to
Men's Rights Activists everywhere.
There are not a lot of surprises with this new version, aside from a few new songs, but knowing Belle and Beast’s story doesn’t diminish the returns with this one.  This new cast is fantastic and are all giving their own unique spin on these characters but not changing them to the point they are unrecognizable.  I thought Emma Watson was fantastic as Belle and Dan Stevens is definitely a lot of fun as Beast.  I will admit I was hesitant to Luke Evans as Gaston because, on a physical level, he’s so much more different than the animated version (that toxic nostalgia was creeping up) but he started to work for me and I really started to notice how he definitely captured the character from the previous adaptation.  Finally, the supporting cast members like Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor as Lumière, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts were all very entertaining and helped bring this majestic tale to life and made the story as vibrant and fun as what came before.

While still pretty cool, there's no denying the nightmare fuel that is live-action
ère and Cogsworth.

I didn’t really find any drawbacks to the film beyond the replay value.  Now that I’m in my 30s, this film probably won’t be seen as often as I watched the animated one when I was 10 but that doesn’t erase the beautiful visuals, great performances, and how it captured the magic of the 1991 classic.  I will also add that Josh Gad kinda was a little irritating at points because he has a habit of being too hammy with his performances and sorta feels like he’s trying too hard but the level of annoying he brought was very minuscule and it was easy to overlook.  Plus, Disney decided to make his character of Lefou gay and that’s pretty damn groundbreaking…even though it made people lose their minds because it meant they had to once again face the reality that the sexual spectrum exists beyond heterosexuality.

I wish my dishes did a show for me...instead they recite poetry.  It's disappointing.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is another for the win column in Disney’s pursuit of making live-action adaptations of their animated features.  It’s just another example how retelling a story in a different format may not entirely change the emotional response or experience but provide a new dimension to the familiar.

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