Friday, March 24, 2017

Reliving the Tale as Old as Time: Thoughts on Beauty and the Beast

Two years ago, Disney released its first live-action version of its own classic princess film, Cinderella, and received great success. The film, directed by Kenneth Brannagh, is critically acclaimed and brought a lot of profit to the company. I personally love the film as well because I think it really is lovely, beautiful and somehow refreshing and traditional at the same time. My favorite part of it is the adorable chemistry between the two lead actors, Lily James and Richard Madden. It's just so amazing. So, just like every Disney princess fan in the world, I was really excited about Disney's second live-action princess movie, Beauty and the Beast. I had such high expectations.

In case you don't know, BATB is led by everyone's favorite girl Emma Watson. She, of course, plays Belle, the Beauty. She is joined by Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson and so many other famous actors who play the iconic characters from the original animated film. Bill Condon, whose previous projects include the final installments of The Twilight Saga, is the director of the film.

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I don't mean to compare BATB with Cinderella but I have to say that I love the latter one more. However, that doesn't mean BATB is a bad movie. 

BATB really stays true to the original movie, the animated one. The costumes are very similar to the ones in the 1991 film. They also use the songs that are featured in the original film. They even keep the original storyline for this film too. This is great, especially if you are one of those people who demand adaptations to stay true to the original versions, because the original story is really good. However, it makes the movie too familiar and predictable. I was hoping for something that can make the story still faithful to the original one, but deeper. Maybe they should show more interactions between Belle and the Beast, or maybe more glimpses of the Beast's life before he gets cursed. Unfortunately we didn't get that.

Some other things in the movie that annoy me are the scene where Belle takes her father's place in the Beast's castle and the Be Our Guest sequence. I find the first scene that I mentioned quite strange. It might work in the animated film but it doesn't really make sense when you put it in a live-action film. Meanwhile, the second scene is a bit too long and cartoonish for me. I know it's such an iconic song but that's just how I felt when I was watching.

Now let's move on to the good side!

Emma Watson is crazy beautiful as Belle in this film. From the moment she first appears on the screen until the end of the film, she always manages to stun with her beauty. Her singing voice is suprisingly good as well. Her version of Belle makes me feel related to her in the same way that Belle in the animated film did. Belle loves books, wants more that other people have got planned and can't help but adoring men who love books haha. Emma really is the perfect Belle.

I really wish I could see more of Dan Stevens in his human form in the future. He seems like a talented actor but I couldn't really "see" him here. Maybe I should start watching his new TV show Legion. Luke Evans successfully brings Gaston to life in this film. His Gaston is just so nasty and makes me hate that character so much (this is a compliment). Josh Gad's Lefou is hilarious and the way he acts reminds me of Olaf in Frozen hahaha. Maybe because Josh is the man behind those two characters.

Just like all Disney princess films, BATB makes me so mushy. The ballroom dance sequence makes me smile like an idiot hahaha. It just awakens every girl's fantasy to be a princess and wear a pretty gown and dance with a prince. As I grow older, I've started to become so pessimistic about love and relationships, but films like BATB and Cinderella make me believe in the beauty of love again.

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I just love seeing this dreamy photo of Belle and the Beast
Last but not least, the songs. The song whose title is also used as the film's title is currently stuck in my head. I was surprised when I realized that I still remember the lyrics! Among the new songs that are especially written for the live-action version, my favorite is How Does a Moment Last Forever? Parts of it are sung in the film by the actors while Celine Dion sings the one played during the (stunning) end credit. The song is just so beautiful.

So, BATB is not a great, Oscar-worthy movie, but it is quite fun to watch. It will make you forget all your problems and frustration for a while, smile and sing the iconic songs over and over.

The next live-action princess films that are in the works are Mulan and Aladdin. The latter is one of my favorite Disney animated films, so I'm very excited to see it. I'll happily wait for it while playing the songs from BATB until the replay button breaks haha.

Rating: 3/5

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