Bonjour, bonjour! BONJOUR! It feels like we’ve been waiting for Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast (Condon:2017) for FOREVER, and it’s finally heeeere! (Cue the party poppers and champagne corks. And throw in a firework or two if you feel like it.) After the success of the live action remake of Cinderella (Branagh:2015) a couple of years ago, which I thought was just magical, I waited with baited breath in the darkened cinema to see possibly my all-time favourite Disney film burst into new life.
**SPOILER FREE POST**
It was beautiful. The visuals were stunning, the story was touching (which we knew already), the new arrangements of the music were gorgeous. The choreographed sequences were enchanting, and the design of the whole production was magical … Have I thrown enough compliments at it yet? I promise there is more to say though.
Emma Watson was a charming Belle, Dan Stevens an endearing beast, and Luke Evans a gorgeously hate-able Gaston. The casting of this film is insanely good: Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Josh Gad, and Stanley Tucci (who I wish we’d seen more of). In fact, I thought Josh Gad stole the show as LeFou. He was innocent, and sweet, and funny, and the additional development of his sexuality was refreshing, as well as being well-fitted. It makes perfect sense for LeFou to be infatuated with his companion. His was my favourite performance for sure.
Okay, while I am probably somewhat biased on account of how much I love the original film, I do really love what they did with the live action. Even down to the tiny plot holes that were covered, which I hadn’t ever noticed existed in the first place. I mean, how did an entire castle and its inhabitants go unremembered for years?
But (yes, there is a but) there was one hang-up I had. And it was a big disappointment. Before I get into that, I want to transport you back to 2015, just for a minute. Bear with. When Cinderella was released, I hadn’t seen the original since the dark days of VHS, and so it wasn’t a particularly beloved Disney film of mine. And I ADORED the live action version. So, what I hoped for with Beauty and the Beast was the same. Really, I wanted to love it more than Cinderella of 2015, and it didn’t quite happen. That was my disappointment. And it came from the music, would you believe it? Because Emma Watson’s voice sounds too digitised. And I think unnecessarily so, because she sounds like she has a lovely voice, it’s just had too much done to it, and it now sounds false. Especially when compared with Luke Evans (who has a fantastic voice), Josh Gad, and Kevin Kline – special mention to Kevin Kline and his version of ‘How Does a Moment Last Forever’ because it is gorgeous. And I really loved the new original songs too, but the editing on Emma Watson’s singing was just too disappointing. Not in a way that I couldn’t get used to, but just enough to annoy me. Made more frustrating because I really, really wanted to love the film, and there’s a little bit of me that will always be bothered by this.
Singing voice irritations aside though, I did love Beauty and the Beast. A lot. I laughed, I cried, (I’m not even joking, but did you really expect anything less?), I loved it. It was touching and emotional, sprinkled with that Disney magical sparkle, and the new elements were what made it all the more special. But after my ramblings, I suppose the best way for me to tell you what I thought of the film is like this: I’m making plans to go see it again.