Tag Archives: beauty and the beast

Disney’s Live-Action “Beauty and the Beast” Review

It’s hard to believe it took me this long to get around to watching this. Part of it was my own fault; I was procrastinating a lot. I was afraid this movie would destroy my childhood love of the animated version, which is still one of my favorite Disney films. The good news is that it didn’t–it was much better than I was expecting although I did not find it to be the smashing success so many other people thought it was.

By now you already know the plot, so I’ll just skip that part and go straight to my opinion. My biggest complaint about the movie is that they really needed to cast someone other than Emma Watson as Belle. Her voice sounded more than half computerized, indicating a generous application of autotune. I don’t mind if autotune is used to tidy up a singer’s performance, but I do mind if it was so heavily applied that the singer doesn’t sound human anymore! Maybe you should, I don’t know, cast someone who doesn’t need so much post-production help. What made it particularly jarring was that it was obvious everyone else could sing with little to no autotune required. Her acting was fine, but the singing could have been so much better. Everyone else was fine, though, and I was pleased to see that Luke Evans was every bit as awesome as Gaston as I thought he was going to be.

This live-action version had some new songs added, and I’m sad to say they just weren’t in the same league as the originals–or even the songs from the stage production. “Evermore” was arguably the best of the lot, but even it lacked the emotional power and depth of some of the older songs. Personally I think the film would have been much better suited if it had kept “If She Can’t Love Me” from the stage production, which occupies roughly the same space in the story.

No spell has been broken;
No words have been spoken.
No point anymore
If she can’t love me.

No hope she would do so;
No dream to pursue, so
I finally know
That I shall always be
In this hopeless state
And condemned to wait,
Wait for death to set me free.

The good news is that the original songs were performed with every bit of passion and enthusiasm they deserved. My two favorite performances were “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest”; the visuals on the latter were especially amazing.

One of the things that I found surprising was the fact that I felt sympathy for Le Fou–he spent pretty much the entire movie watching his oldest friend turn into a monster and not knowing how to put a stop to it. There were times he tried to stand up to Gaston and get him to stop, but Gaston always ended up bullying him into complicity. In a way it almost felt that the story of the Beast’s redemption and Gaston’s fall were paralleling each other, and that was one of the things I genuinely liked about this version.

Final verdict: it’s not as good as the 1991 animated version, but it’s still a good movie in its own right. I also encourage you to check out the 2014 French version that I reviewed earlier this year. I spotted some similarities between that version and this one, most notably in set design and shot framing, so I wonder if someone at Disney watched the French version and got some inspiration.

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French “Beauty and the Beast” Adaptation was Totally Worth the Wait

Long about three years ago, I stumbled upon a trailer for a French adaptation of Beauty and the Beast starring Lea Seydoux as Belle and Vincent Cassel as the Beast.

I thought the trailer looked amazing and decided to put it in the Netflix queue. Well, it took Netflix three years to actually make this movie available. Don’t ask me why; it was annoying. But the good news is that it finally became available, and I finally got to watch it, and it was completely worth the wait.

This version is more in line with the French fairy tale–Belle’s father is a merchant who takes a rose from the Beast’s garden; the Beast issues an ultimatum that if the merchant does not return, he will kill his entire family; Belle takes her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner; Beast tries to get Belle to fall in love with him; Belle must learn to see the man behind the monster. Because the story is already so well known, however, the writers added a few extra twists to surprise the people who know and love this tale as old as time.

For example, Belle had extra motivation in taking her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner. In this version, we learn that Belle’s mother died giving birth to her, and Belle blames herself for causing her mother’s death (she also suspects her siblings think the same thing even if they’ve never told her to her face). Her unwillingness to be the cause of her father’s death, too, is what prompts her to return to the Beast’s castle in her father’s stead.

The Beast’s story is the one that sees the most changes. While staying in the castle, Belle’s dreams show her how her captor was once a prince, a prince whose love of hunting was rivaled only by his love for his wife (yes, you read that right. The Prince was married before). The ultimate goal that the Prince pursued was the Golden Deer, but his wife asked him to give up his quest because she didn’t like spending so much time alone in the castle while he was off hunting with his buddies. At first the Prince agrees to give up searching for the Golden Deer, but he later breaks his promise and continues his pursuit. When he finally corners and shoots it, the terrible truth is revealed–the Golden Deer was the true form of his wife, who was really a wood nymph (dryad?) who took human form because she wanted to experience love. As she lay dying, she begs her father, the god of the forest, to spare the Prince’s life. Instead of killing the Prince, the forest god curses him to remain trapped in the form of a beast until a woman’s love should set him free…but since the only woman who loved him was currently dead, that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Oh, I should also mention that the wood nymph was pregnant, so in addition to being trapped in animal form, the Beast had to live with the guilt of knowing he was responsible for the deaths of his wife and unborn child.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this version. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I had heard mixed reviews of it, but it was incredible. The biggest complaint seemed to be that the love story between Belle and the Beast didn’t feel very well formed, but come on, people–this is a fairy tale. In fairy tales, people usually get married after two days; no one seriously expects fairy tale romances to be an accurate reflection of reality! Also, I think several complaints came from people who were expecting something more in line with the Disney version of the story. The fact is that Disney was not the first to adapt this story, and they won’t be the last. And as far as adaptations go, this 2014 version is definitely one of the better ones. In fact, part of me wonders if I’ll find the live-action Disney version underwhelming after this sumptuous, stunning film.

Eh, I’ll probably still like it. But after watching this and Jean Cocteau’s 1946 masterpiece, I’m starting to think no one can adapt this story quite like the French.

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Some “Beauty and the Beast” Music

Unless you’ve been living under a very impressive rock, you probably know that the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie is coming out next month. That’s all well and good in itself, but recently my Facebook memories brought the song “If I Can’t Love Her” from the Broadway version back to my mind. Now it’s my understanding that this song won’t be in the movie, which makes me said because it’s an awesome song. So I decided to share it here.

This particular version of “If I Can’t Love Her” is taken from the Beauty and the Beast: A Concert on Ice special from 1996. Personally, I have always thought James Barbour had the perfect voice for the Beast, so I definitely hold a special fondness for any version he performs.

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Full “Beauty and the Beast” Trailer

This falls into the category of “Stuff That Happened While I Was Doing My Doctor Who Countdown, so I Didn’t Get a Chance to Cover It”. The first full trailer for Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast remake came out a couple of weeks ago, and I must say I am really impressed with the sets and costumes. They look amazing. They almost remind me of a mix of the 90’s animated version and Jean Cocteau’s version from the 40’s. The acting…well, I’m not entirely sold on the acting just yet. I’m still feeling burned from Les Miserables and The Hobbit, so I’m reserving judgement. But I am looking forward to Luke Evans as Gaston; his Bard was one of the redeeming aspects of The Hobbit.

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We Have Our First Look at Disney’s Live-Action “Beauty and the Beast”!

Last week, Disney released the first teaser trailer for its live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, which we now know will be released on March 17, 2017.

It doesn’t give a whole lot away–and a good teaser trailer shouldn’t give you the entire plot anyway–but I have to say that those sets look AMAZING. I’m excited to see this for those sets alone. Also, the candelabras definitely reminded me of the set design from the 2004 Phantom of the Opera, which is ironic because the sets from that movie got their inspiration from Jean Cocteau’s 1941 La Belle et la Bete. So it’s almost like the two stories are inspiring each other in a perpetual feedback loop.

I’m hesitant to get too excited about this because my disappointments with Les Miserables and the Hobbit trilogy are still fresh and clear in my mind. But at the same time, this trailer has me excited and intrigued about what will happen next with this version of the tale as old as time.

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Now There’s a Link between “Beauty and the Beast” and Star Wars

I found it strangely amusing that the two movies I’m waiting for now have a common link–Ewan McGregor. Star Wars aficionados, of course, know him as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels, and he now has been cast as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast. He’s not whom I would have picked for that part, but the nerd in me is just happy that Obi-Wan is going to be in the movie.

There was a rumor at one point that McGregor would be reprising the role of Obi-Wan in The Force Awakens, presumably the Force-ghost Obi-Wan, but unfortunately it looks to be just that–a rumor. Still, I find it pretty cool that the two movies I’ve been blogging about recently now have something in common.

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Two-for-One Nerd Update: “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Force Awakens”

It seems that a lot has been going on in geeky realms while I have been busy with other, less-exciting aspects of life, but now that I have some free time again, I am determined to summarize some of what I’ve learned about the two movies I am getting really excited to see, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

Wow, that was a long sentence.

Beauty and the Beast

I may have been disappointed about my dream cast not coming through, but this little bit of casting news almost completely makes up for it–Ian McKellan is going to be in it! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Magneto/Gandalf/elderly Sherlock Holmes has joined the cast of Beauty and the Beast as Cogsworth. That’s not necessarily a role I would have associated with him, but, hey, it’s Ian McKellan. He’ll be awesome.

They’ve also cast Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, Josh Gad as Le Fou, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Martha’s sister Tish from Doctor Who‘s third season) as Plumette (Lumiere’s feather duster girlfriend), and Audra McDonald as Madame de la Grande Bouche (Belle’s wardrobe). Yep, this is shaping up to be a pretty exciting movie.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

So…this happened yesterday.

I can feel my skepticism melting away each time I watch this trailer, which is not necessarily a good thing. Return of the Jedi was a good way to end the series; I’m still not sure The Force Awakens is a necessary addition. But…I watch the ships and the battles and the light sabers, and I can’t muster enough energy to care that it will likely end badly like another franchise I could name (coughHobbitTrilogycough). My younger, more pathetically nerdy self is just excited that Star Wars is returning to the big screen.

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