I have been in anticipation of Beauty and the Beast ever since Emma Watson was cast as Belle and for that reason, I have become increasingly worried that the movie wouldn’t meet my high expectations. Even more so since the controversy involving the possible intent of Disney to push their LGBT agenda through the film. In order to make this review as detailed and informative as possible, I have decided to divert from the format of my usual reviews and just do a story and visual effects breakdown on this film compared to the original, as well as a character analysis on the movies most important characters.
One of the first things I noticed while watching Beauty and the Beast was how scenic the backdrops were in so many shots throughout. There are a couple of shots where Belle is on a hill just outside the village and the camera pans around to show the audience the brilliant views of this part of France. The castle is also visually stunning and the movie displays it in many different ways.
There is a big emphasis on space in a way that I have never seen before in a Disney film. They use many dramatic pan outs and aerial shots to display where the village is in comparison to the castle, or where the different parts of the castle are actually located, etc. At the end of the movie, you should be able to describe the Beast’s castle with the kind of detail and special accuracy that a movie has never been able to portray before.
Another thing that many people have been a little skeptical about is how the CGI characters such as Beast, Cogsworth, and Lumiere would blend with the rest of the film. I am pleased to say that I really like the way they all looked and moved. The fact that they were CGI and quite a bit different looking from the film’s predecessor didn’t take anything away from how visually stunning I thought the movie was.
After watching Beauty and the Beast I am now supremely confident that Emma Watson was born to play Belle. Not only does she have the Belle look, she has this charm to the way she plays the part that made everyone in the theater fall in love with her. I was assured of this fact when Gaston died (Spoiler, but not really) and about half of the theater started clapping. She isn’t the best singer in the world but it was easily tolerable and if anything it added to the authenticity of her character.
Dan Stevens took on this part and like most of the characters from the enchanted castle, you don’t see a lot of him in his human form, most of his role was voice acting. I didn’t mind how he looked overall, but I do think the CGI Beast could’ve looked a little scarier, while still avoiding giving children nightmares. One of my favorite new aspects of the film was the solo song that Beast does while Belle is leaving the castle to go and help her father. It is so beautiful and full of emotion that it really gets the audience feeling the Beast’s pain even though everyone who has seen the original movie knows that everything will turn out all right in the end.
If you read my WTE article on the movie, you know that I was interested to see if I would like Luke Evan’s portrayal of Gaston, and I loved it. He was definitely the best singer of all of the main characters and really was the perfect embodiment of how the animated Gaston should look and act in real life. He honestly might have been my favorite character in the movie not played by someone named Emma Watson.
Sorry to anyone that was hoping I might bash on Disney for the way they portrayed Lefou in this movie. Sure there were a few things that he did in the film that could make the older audiences think he is gay, but I guarantee it would fly over the head of most kids under 15 or so. I think I actually liked this version of Lefou, played by Josh Gad, better than the original from 1991. He was goofy and witty and really added a lot to the movie. He is probably the character that is most different in this movie compared to its predecessor, but not for the reason people are expecting. I really like the way they end his story at the conclusion of the movie.
This dynamic duo was hilarious and really fun to watch. Lumiere is played by Ewan MacGregor and Cogsworth by Ian McKellen. They had the kind of relationship in the movie where each character just seemed to feed off the other perfectly. Lumiere brings the energy and spunk while Cogsworth tries to keep order, but they both work together to try and help the Beast earn the affection of Belle so that the spell may be broken.
Story Comparison (Spoilers)
I was expecting the Beauty and the Beast of 2017 to be so similar to the original that it may even share much of the exact same dialogue. In reality, it keeps the integrity of the story almost exactly, while using very little of the original dialogue (outside of the songs). This gave it a feel of originality so it didn’t feel like we were watching the exact same movie that we did 17 years ago. Also, I don’t have a section in here for the music, but the music is awesome. Some new songs and some old, but all good. This will definitely be a soundtrack you will want to give a listen to on Spotify; I already have.
The story doesn’t divert from the original very except for little things that are added here and there. Gaston and Lefou taking Maurice out looking for Belle and then leaving him tied to a tree in the forest. Eventually, he returns and that is when Gaston lobbies to have him put in an asylum. Another rather large difference is the book that the Enchantress apparently left for the Beast that can take you to anywhere in time. It’s essentially a book time machine. Belle uses it to go to Paris when she is very little so she can find out what happened to her mother. I loved the way the audience is given a lot more background on both Belle and Prince Adam than we’ve ever had before. Also, in the end, Lefou decides that he doesn’t want to follow Gaston so that he can do what’s right and I thought that really worked out well.
The other significant difference has to do with The Enchantress. In this version of Beauty and the Beast, there is a beggar named Agathe that turns out in the end to be the enchantress. When Belle fails to proclaim her love for Beast until a few minutes after the last petal falls, The Enchantress is there watching and she chooses to reverse the spell anyway. This might be the only change that I didn’t really like very much. It didn’t really add anything to the film and I am not sure what the motive behind that change is.
Simply put, Beauty and the Beast is both a visual and emotional treat to watch. It’s one of those films that you just have fun with. I could talk about this movie for hours, whether it’s singing along with the songs from the original animated version or marveling at the stunning scenery and impressive costuming. No matter what anyone has been saying, this is a great movie for family night, and if I had kids I would take them to see it in a heartbeat. The only reason I am not rating this movie even higher than I am is that it isn’t really an original. Definitely worth a watch.
Message to Parents
All of the petitions, and boycotts, and bashing on social media of how Disney is trying to push their LGBT agenda on our children is extremely unnecessary. Many of the people that are voicing their disgust with this film simply don’t know what they are talking about and are overreacting to a quote from director Bill Condon a couple months ago saying that the movie would have Disney’s first “exclusively gay moment”. The moment in question is with about 2 minutes left in the movie when everyone is dancing in the castle and when they switch partners, Lefou and another man end up dancing together for about 2 seconds. You could literally blink and not even notice it. Not only do I feel like that moment was not a big deal at all, but in the previous moments to that, Lefou is seen dancing with a woman. Sure there are a couple times throughout the movie where Lefou makes a subtle comment that could come across as flirtatious towards Gaston. However, I am almost certain that if no comment had been made by Bill Condon, the Christian community would not even give these moments a second thought. If you are a parent that is worried about this films gay agenda, instead of getting on Facebook and trying to stir up controversy, I would encourage you to watch the film and form an opinion for yourself as to if this movie is suitable for your children. I am confident you will be surprised by what you have been making such a fuss about.