Tale as old as time…

If you know me, you’ll know that it takes a hell of a movie to get me actually to fork over the money it takes to to go the theatre these days. When Disney announced that they were producing a live action version of their 1991 animated classic, Beauty and the Beast, I initially wasn’t sure if it would make the cut for me to see it in the theatre upon its release.

In the end, my inner child won out, and we went to see it this past weekend. And boy, am I glad we did! In a word, it was exquisite. Positively enchanting, pun intended.

As I often do when watching films for the first time, I avoided too many reviews. There was no need to avoid spoilers in this instance, however, I generally do not want my opinion being pre-tainted, as it were, by what the professional critics have to say.

Dear Husband informs me that some were critical of Disney for not adding anything new to the story. But, to that I say, first of all this is a retelling of a classic, so why would you expect much new? But secondly, there actually was a lot new added.

For one, this film actually gave us some meatier backstories to both Belle and the Prince. We find out more about Belle’s mother, and how and she and her father came to their provincial little life. We also find out how the Prince came to have his entitled, snobbish attitude. Additionally, we get to know the castle characters much more deeply. In the original film, we don’t get to see much more than Lumiere and Cogsworth’s witty banter, and Mrs. Potts doting on her son Chip. But this new film explores the various side characters with a much more satisfying depth.

The acting, while not Oscar-worthy, was certainly better than I came in hoping it would be. Emma Watson positively shone as Belle, and I am pleased to announce that her acting skills have improved significantly since her Harry Potter days. Luke Evans pulled off a fantastic Gaston, as he really nailed the character’s unending narcissism and territorial nature. I had never heard of Dan Stevens prior to seeing him play the Beast, and I would say he did a passable job, though it was difficult to gauge the full extent of his acting skills given the CGI-heavy nature of his role.

Where the movie truly excelled was in the perfectly executed choreography and breathtaking scenery. From scene to scene, the pacing was on point, and I felt myself being swept away in mid-18th century provincial France. Speaking of the time period, I greatly appreciate that Disney removed some anachronisms that had been present in the 1991 animated film. For example, the Eiffel tower did not begin construction until the late 1800s, so I was much relieved that they removed it from the one scene in this new film that took place in Paris.

I am not an expert of any kind when it comes to period costumes, hairstyles, and jewelry, however, I did wonder if some of Belle’s jewelry was out of place historically. During the famous ballroom scene, Emma Watson’s character is wearing a large ear cuff that wraps around her ear and goes into it. While gorgeous, it did immediately take me out of the moment and give me pause to wonder if ear cuffs were popular in France at that period. (My cursory research on the matter leaves the answer unresolved.)

Regardless of whether the jewelry was anachronistic, every single thing about this film was visually stunning. My only real complaint about the movie was the horrendous auto-tuning done to Emma Watson’s singing. I recognize that she is not a singer, but good God, someone went heavy on the auto-tuning.

Finally, I would be remiss to write a review of this film without at least acknowledging the recent hubbub about its featured diversity. If you’ve not heard, Malaysia have banned the film due to it containing an openly gay character. While Josh Gad’s Le Fou is certainly gay if you are intentionally looking for it, I would hardly call it anything more than subtle. Dear Husband and I both agreed afterwards that we might not have even noticed it at all until the very end scene, in which he is seen grabbing a male dance partner.

In addition to Le Fou being gay, the film also features a racially diverse cast, including, among others, the inimitable Audra McDonald as the Prince’s principle singer (who gets turned into a wardrobe when the castle and its inhabitants are cursed). While I cannot speak to the historical accuracy of these features, I absolutely love that Disney insisted on a prominent gay character, a black woman in an aristocratic position, and numerous interracial couples.

All in all, it was a fabulous film, and one I plan to own once it is released for home viewing. Tell me, have you seen the new Beauty and the Beast film? If so, what did you think?

Until next time,

xoxo Charlotte

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25 comments

    • Haha writing a good review is tough – it can be so hard to cram so many details and opinions into a succinct review! This reminds me, do you ever do book reviews on your blog? I can’t recall seeing on on there before, but maybe I’ve missed them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My problem was writing the review and not dropping spoilers. One of the plus points of writing a review for Beauty & the Beast I suppose is that only people with their heads buried shoulders deep in the sand won’t have seen the 1991 cartoon version. Therefore there was little chance of spoilers per se, whereas Assassin’s Creed doesn’t have that luxury. Even avid fans of the games won’t know what happened in the movie. That said, I could have gone into more detail about it without spoiling anything just like you’ve achieved here.

        I haven’t written a book review ever because the last time I read one was the back end of 2015. I simply haven’t had the time or opportunity 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      • Avoiding spoilers is absolutely difficult in writing any review. In this review in particular, as you say, it was not really an issue at all. If someone doesn’t know the plot of BatB at this point but is still reading my review, then that’s their problem if they encounter a spoiler! However, with something like AC, as you point out, it definitely poses a challenge.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I doubt I’ll watch BatB as it’s not quite my bag, but I think the cartoon version is one of the better Disney movies. I think Gaston is hilarious. There’s something about tongue-in-cheek, over the top narcissism in movies that amuses me.

        Have you seen Assassin’s Creed yet? It got panned from all angles and it didn’t deserve such a lambasting in my opinion. It was actually rather good.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Funny you should mention AC — we’ve got plans to watch it this weekend! I think I’ll take the personal opinion of a blogging friend such as yourself, over the opinion of a newpaper critic. I generally find that when it comes to films, I tend not to agree with the professional critics. You’ll be sure to hear all about my review, though.

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  1. I think this is going to be my task for this weekend! The original Beauty and the Beast is my favourite movie of all time and I really worry about it being “ruined” for me. However, I’m going to steel myself with some pre-listening of Gaston and just go for it!… Also, I don’t believe the cuff style would have been around, then. As a historian, THIS is my pet peeve with historical pieces- inaccuracies take you out of the moment!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, you’ve convinced me to go 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • At the risk of setting your expectations too high, I’ll come right out and say that you will LOVE it! I was very worried as well. (Side note: The Little Mermaid was my absolute favorite film as a child, so now my fear, similar to yours here, is that the live action remake of it will “ruin” it for me whenever that comes out in the next year or so.)

      Thank you for confirming the historical inaccuracy of the ear cuff! I meant to ask you if you knew about that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh man, I want to see this SO BAD. My husband said he will go, but I’m trying to give him a bit of time to ease into it so I don’t torture him so much. I read the reviews and was worried the movie wouldn’t be good – so I’m glad your review said to opposite. I don’t usually agree with the formal review ‘outlets.’ They kinda suck. It’s better to read it from regular people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was so worried as well — I mean anytime they take a childhood classic and redo it, there’s always the concern that it’s just a poorly executed cash cow of nostalgia. So I was very pleased that this was very, very well done.

      Good luck convincing Alex!!

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  3. […] Following Charlotte I am doing my own Beauty and the Beast review! If you have somehow been living under a rock or are very unawares of new movies that are coming out, the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast came into theatres a month ago. It had been built up for months and months, and I think you would had to have worked hard to avoid it. I did try to avoid anything more than the first trailer, especially detailed film site reviews lest something be spoiled for me. I went into it with as fresh a mind as possible! […]

    Liked by 1 person

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