Quote from Beauty and the Beast by Lumière: “Yes, I will make sure of it, But don’t you see, this is the girl we have been waiting for! This is the one who will break the spell!”
Most of us see movies to escape reality unless the movie is based on actual events or people. In this version of the Beauty and the Beast, it doesn’t get too serious to the point of reminding yourself that what is actually happening is not such a good thing in some respects. I’ll let you ponder that one for a bit. This version is much lighter than the original story, especially compared to the French-German 2014 version. I think it’s the moving clock and candelabra that really pushes the story to absurdity, but this is what I like about it. All the non-human objects that should be voiceless and non-moving is only one part that makes this movie work. You shouldn’t be serious all the time. The casting including Emma Watson who is all grown up now from the Harry Potter series is another positive. Watson’s style of singing lends well to the character of Belle, and compliments those who play her suitors, Dan Stevens as Beast and Luke Evans as Gaston. This review should be spoiler free although plot points are discussed, but given this is a universal story, there probably isn’t too much you don’t already know.
Beauty and the Beast, a Mandaville Films and Walt Disney Pictures production, was directed by Bill Condon who also is a writer and helped bring to the screen Dreamgirls and Chicago. The over the top performances by Audra McDonald, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellan, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Ewan McGregor are a friendly welcome in the midst of current times and when it was released. Don’t forget the little teacup, played by Nathan Mack, one of the few children in the movie. The MMPA rating is PG for some action violence, peril, and frightening images. The running time is 2 hours and 9 minutes. This version includes a book smart girl whose determination rescues her father, whose compassion saves the beast, and whose patience teaches her a valuable lesson about love.
The beginning of this movie starts with the snobbish Prince, who thinks too highly of himself and down upon those unlike him. He finds himself paying for this faulty view when he meets an ugly woman. A timely curse is put on him and whether he can make someone love him at his ugliest is the only way it will be broken. There is little hope for him and those who serve him until he comes face to face with a man, Maurice, taking what he views as his property. It’s a good thing his horse, Phillippe, has such wisdom and sense of direction. Phillippe travels back with his daughter, Belle, who finds her father held captive in the Beast’s lair. If only the townspeople believed Maurice, but since they don’t, the story continues with the bad people led by Belle’s suitor, Gaston, continuing battle who they view as their adversaries. Back in the castle, Belle pieces together more of her life with the help of the Beast. He comes to the realization it is wrong for her to be there against her will after they share a dance together. Phillippe, ever the loyal horse, is waiting for her, and takes her back to be reunited with her father. Even she is not enough to stop Gaston and his sidekick, LaFou, from charging ahead to preserve his pride. A lighthearted battle ensues at the castle between the animated non-human objects and townspeople, and between Gaston and the Beast. Because this is a fairy tale, I’m sure you can guess what the ending is, and as the saying goes, “not everything is as it seems.”
I thoroughly enjoyed the songs and those singing them, and was surprised one of my favorites was “Gaston.” Let me continue applauding the song sung by Celine Dion at the end of the movie, “How Does a Moment Last Forever.” We found out about her lung capacity and musical talent while watching Titanic. The whole music score by Alan Menken was amazing and pleasing to the ear. A production value of this magnitude must also have a production and costume design that POPS on the screen. It did this and much more. The library with all the books. Yes, please. The yellow gown worn by Belle had 2,196 Swarovski crystals sewn onto it, and took over 12,000 hours to complete. It’s as if it didn’t belong on anyone else. This leads me to the hiring of Ewan McGregor, going out of his comfort zone to be part of a Disney movie, and producing a well-rounded candelabra full of insight and compassion. Lumière was equal with Cogsworth as being my favorite non-human objects although how can you deny Clothilde. Without her, you’d have no yellow gown.
This movie targeted primarily young children and Disney movie lovers, but you don’t need to be either one to watch and enjoy this movie. Being a timeless classic story, it ultimately progresses at a nice pace. The transition between the castle and village is smooth, and while some scenes and lines are rather farcical, it is for good reason. Not every movie has to be overly serious nor should every movie be raked over with a fine toothed comb. I could dissect the character of Belle until there is nothing left of her, but most of us can agree she was never the poster child for feminism. Do modern women want to marry a Prince or have a fairy tale wedding? Some do. Would I have liked to see a little more of Belle’s change of heart with her view of the Beast near the end of the movie? Yes, but this is so slight that it is easily forgivable. Would I have liked for a little more substance between Belle and the Prince once he shed his fur besides her comment on growing a beard? Yes, of course, I would have, but we know Belle is just as capable of loving the MAN as she loved the BEAST.
I give Beauty and the Beast a rating of five fingers at 96%.
This is my attempt at making my reviews better. They will NOT have major spoilers like some of my previous reviews, which I suspect turned people away in 2017. Sorry about this after the fact, and don’t worry, not all will get high scores. Wait until I review some older movies. I’m also compiling further genre lists, biopic movies, guilty movies I hate to admit I’ve seen, and more. I’m also getting back into movie recommendations, which will be less structured, and where I put more of a creative spin on it. I’m in the process of tweaking my own rating system to make it a little better as well.
Happy Movie Watching Everyone!!!