Friday, March 17, 2017

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Movie review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast has big shoes to fill - the 1991 Disney animated version is beloved by audiences worldwide. Luckily, Disney brings the magic once again with this live-action adaptation, aided by a superb cast.

The movie starts by introducing us to the prince (Dan Stevens) and his lavish castle lifestyle. He's in the midst of throwing a masquerade ball when an old woman appears at his doorstep, begging for charity. He laughs at the woman and denies her food or shelter; it's then revealed that she's an enchantress. She turns the prince into the Beast, and his household staff into objects, and then leaves him the rose she originally brought, as a reminder. Once the rose loses all of its petals, too, the staff will become inanimate; if the Beast falls in love with a woman before then, though, and his feelings are reciprocated, with a kiss, then the curse will be broken.

Meanwhile, in a provincial life nearby, Belle (Emma Watson) is going about her daily routine, including picking up another book to read. Her father, Maurice (Kevin Kline), is leaving to go on a short trip, but he promises her a rose upon his return. He stumbles upon the Beast's castle, and is about to leave; however, he remembers his promise and grabs a white rose from the Beast's garden, which infuriates the Beast. Belle senses something is wrong, and visits the castle to retrieve her father; where she ends up trading his capture for her own.

What happens next is a tale as old as time, of course, and moviegoers familiar with the 1991 version won't need a full recap. Emma Watson is captivating as Belle, and the supporting cast is great too - you'll recognize many A-lister names as the voice cast, for the Beast's household (Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, to name just a smattering), and both Luke Evans and Josh Gad are great as Gaston and LeFou; Gaston is definitely a Joey Donner type here, and he's definitely in love with himself.

As for LeFou being gay, which has been widely talked about on the internet: good for Disney. I spotted a few scenes that could have qualified, too, rather than "the one exclusive scene," so to speak (it's a 2-second scene near the end, if you're looking for it), and I'm baffled that this is even "controversial" in 2017.

Yes, definitely see this movie! I saw it at a 3D screening, and the 3D was very 'in your face' - overall, though, it can be skipped in my opinion. There were actually a few scenes of Belle in her village where it was a little shaky/hard to watch, although the "Be our Guest" scene was great in 3D. The movie was much more opulent than I originally expected, which also lended more magic to it; at the beginning, the Prince/Beast's castle is resplendent in gold (this is France, after all) during the ball, and even after he becomes the Beast, it still has a stately air to it. Belle's village, too, although modest, was very pretty. If you're a fan of the original Beauty and the Beast, or even if you've never seen that version, I highly recommend this one, and it should do very well at the box office.

Beauty and the Beast
is in theaters today, March 17th, and is rated PG with a runtime of 129 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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