I finally saw it. To some extent, I even enjoyed it. Read my full review. See the spoiler filled review below.
This movie is very similar, almost to a t, to the original, which already makes it better than the live-action Cinderella. The visuals and the music help to move the story and move us along with it. It really makes you want to rewatch it and rewatch the original. Thus we open to the story of how the Prince (who still doesn’t have a name) became the Beast. We are introduced to this spoiled, posh man, common of the era of Versailles, and grand balls and 18th century dresses.
This movie takes place quite clearly in the 18th century, the powdered white wigs, pasty faces with lots of colorful makeup, and wide dresses. It is also clearly seen in the peasantry fashion in the “little town” not too far from the castle. More on this further down.
The witch cursed the prince for being a jerk and literally everyone else because they laughed at her and because that wasn’t quite enough she cursed pretty much anyone and everyone else from remembering anything about the prince, the castle, or those who worked and lived there. The castle design is great and reminiscent of the original, but somehow looks even more hollow after the curse.
We then turn to a little town, complete with an Autotune Emma Watson singing a bizarrely rearranged rendition of the opening song. Not only is it terribly and blatantly autotuned, they made changes to the arrangement to better fit with Emma’s voice. This song is basic, it is not difficult to sing in it’s originality. It is quite cringe worthy to listen to if you have any background in music or musical training. Sadly this problem continues, and becomes more blatant when other actors sing such as Dan Stevens (Beast), or Luke Evans (Gaston), and the duet she had with the Wardrobe played by the super talented Audra McDonald, just shows how weak of a singer Emma is.
Thus this movie has a few problems, one being the fact that the witch sticks around town. Was she from the town the entire time? And one little thing that may have just bugged me. But it seems as though they couldn’t decide on Belle’s footwear. In the opening sequence she has combat-style boots, which fits, especially since she’s walking through unpaved streets of the town. When she’s talking to Gaston by her house, it’s these weird flat slipper things. When she arrives at the castle, it’s combat boots, but when she’s with the Beast outside in the snow, it’s those slippers again. Did she carry an extra pair of shoes when she took the horse to rescue her father?
Emma is actually the weakest character in this entire movie, coming off as sadly bland at times and uncomfortable, while the movie is entertaining, it doesn’t seem like Emma is having fun in this role or enjoying it. As a result, her acting comes off rather reserved. PLus, sadly her and Dan Stevens don’t have much in the way of chemistry. Within this, let’s talk about the dress, which faraway looks free and flowie and modern…which is sad when the movie takes place in the 1700’s. It’s distracting and yes, looks cheap and quickly put together up close, thus making the scene where we see the dress all the more disappointing. The fact that Emma Watson had design input on the dress is sad and her refusal to wear a corset is was just silly. Emma, leave the fashion design to the professionals and wearing a corset is not a sign of the patriarchy.
Now let’s talk choreography. I know it’s the 1700’s, but it was unnecessary to have the same dance at the start and end of the movie, which wasn’t a flowing waltz and while it fit the music better at the end, it left something to be desired in the usual place of “Tale as Old as Time.” It just didn’t fit well with the song in the ballroom scene. Speaking of the timing of the movie, there is a scene where they go to Paris via enchanted book and Emma ends up in the little attic her parents lived in and we learn that her mother died from the plague. The plague, that while Marseilles was hit with the plague in 1720’s, the disease had left Paris a century before. It honestly felt like a scene that should have been deleted. I did not know the fate of Belle’s mother was such a huge mystery that needed explaining.
But this movie isn’t all bad. It was artistically pleasing, and not controversial in the least (no seriously, there’s nothing to complain about), it was funny, and flowed well and had good music and for the most part the acting was great, especially by the voice cast. And giving them back stories and relations to the town helped tie everything together. Cogsworth turns out would rather be a clock than deal with his wife, who lives in the town. One of the villagers is actually Mrs. Potts’s husband, which was a nice touch and the backstory of the Beast and the attitude of the poor abused and enchanted staff make more sense with the added context.
The village got more backstory too and more character beyond generics, they’re still largely horrible people, hating on Belle’s invention…even though it would help the entire town do the laundry faster and chastening her for helping a little girl with her reading (because how dare the village have more than one woman reading…soon they’ll get all sorts of silly ideas). And the village library/book store is 100% smaller than in the animated movie, thus when the Beast reveals to Belle the castle library that moment becomes all the more majestic and grand and the reaction, as the Beast wonders off, is absolutely adorable.
It is worth seeing just to see a semi-different spin on the film and you can be sure Nostalgia Critic will do an in depth comparison. It had great humor, LaFou even got some depth on him and ended up being a great character as was Kevin Kline as Belle’s father and the Feather duster voiced by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, among others.
There’s not much new except for a few extra songs, which are awesome and while it isn’t a new spin on it, this live-action remake is an enchanting and sweet ride.