Beauty and the Beast

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I was hesitantly excited going into the theater this weekend. I mean it is a “tale as old as time”, how could Disney keep this “tale” classic, without making it an unnecessary shot by shot remake? The answer: original songs, a bomb supporting cast, and banking on weak reminiscent 90’s girls hit with the double whammy of Hermione-Belle.

And in my eyes, Emma Watson probably couldn’t have failed. Despite some noticeable audio-tune and a relatively one note performance, she is the definitive “well-read-and-beautiful”actress currently. And her off screen crusades as a modern feminist icon have only secured her as one of the most popular non-traditional “Hollywood” actresses.

As for the supporting cast, the animate objects were all so whimsical. Ewan McGregor, Sir Ian McKellan, and Emma Thompson as Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts respectively had old Disney charm down pat, so I forgive McGregor for what I personally thought was the most dissapointing song recreation of “Be Our Guest”, and a weak accent.

I was on the fence about Luke Evans as Gaston, simply because the only person in Hollywood with the physique I expect for Gaston is Dwayne Johnston. But with some shoulder pads, extra layers, and one of the strongest vocal performers in the whole show, he really exceeded my expectations. Josh Gad’s comic relief Le Fou modernized the whole production, and had some of the best lines, and despite being pretty easily swayed to to good side in the end, but was a real bright spot in general.

Speaking of Gad, there was a lot of press about Le Fou being the first gay Disney character, which I saw as a very subtle plot line that was never entirely resolved, or really deeply explored. The one thing to say is props to Disney I guess, since they refused to cut 1-2 seconds of footage, and it would have been very easy to have backed down to criticism.

Moving on to the music, obviously the inclusion of Alan Menken was a win. There were are few original song additions, that I though were a necessity to keep this version fresh. My roommate and I have been going on and on over one of the new songs in particular, “Evermore”. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I have now seen this movie twice, and teared up twice during this song. However, I am going to say that may have more to do with my personal love life tendencies.

Overall, one of the best aspects of the story was how they spent more meaningful time on the relationship between Belle and the Beast. As a side note, wouldn’t she call him Adam? No? Anyway, the falling in love aspects seemed more organic than in it’s animated counterpart (which I revisited last weekend in preparation). I instinctively accredit this to Stephen Chbosky (Perks of Being a Wallflower), who I had more general trust in than Bill Condon (Twilight). There is a lot I could go on about, plot changes, how hot the beast was, fleshed out character backgrounds, my goosebumps during the Belle Reprise, but I think I will cut myself off here and just say if you think you may enjoy this, I’m sure you will. 7.5/10

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