This was my most anticipated film of the year. I was so excited. I saw it twice and I loved it both times. Whatever I say here, unless I blatantly state as such, is not knocking the original animated film, nor am I detracting from it or anything like that. This review is for this film only. Due to it being a remake, I may say something about the source material but as comparison if anything.
Summary: An adaptation of the Disney fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love.
Cast and Characters. There are a lot of characters in this film but they were all so great that I have to talk about them. Some will probably get more detail than others, but just bear with me.
Emma Watson as Belle. I loved this casting when it was announced. I think she was prefect for the role, she embodied Belle’s intelligence, her spunky attitude (plus a bit more depth), her beauty and her love for those and the things she loved. I saw a lot of criticism before the film came out about Emma not being graceful enough for Belle and I think that’s just silly. In this film, Belle is a farm girl and she gets her hands dirty, she even makes her own washing machine. She’s beautiful yes, she’s whimsical yes, but she also takes charge and does her thing. When she goes to save her father, she drops everything and goes. I loved it. I loved how she stood up to Gaston, she didn’t stroke his ego, she just said no. Her love for books was evident, it wasn’t just holding one, she really loved them. I wonder if some of these aspects came easy to Emma being that she played Hermione Granger (who in some ways is very similar to Belle) and is very similar to Belle herself. When it came time for her to be graceful, she could. The dance was beautiful and she took charge there as well. I liked her quite a bit. She handled her emotional moments very well, and she had control of her eyebrows lol, sometimes Emma Watson does the eyebrow dance and it was under control here lol.
Dan Stevens as The Beast/The Prince.
We see him as the Prince in the beginning, the douchebag Prince. It was quite entertaining to see that, I’m glad they did that, also by showing us that he was an adult when he was cursed. I know his age is still in question from the animated film** but he’s obviously well aware of his actions here.
The Beast: We spend the most time with him in his form and he was so sassy. I grinned like an idiot during a lot of his dialogue (I’ll talk about his appearence later). He was mean and he was course and unrefined. His shock at Belle wanting to take her father’s place I thought was well done, as his experience with fathers wasn’t good. He’s really only mean in the beginning and I thought Dan Stevens did a great job in portraying that, even if his expressions were CGI’ed, his eyes were a great catalyst for his acting. Some of the nuisances he would do, like his expressions or his movements were great additions to the character. He also had great chemistry with Emma Watson both as a Beast and a man later.
Luke Evans as Gaston. I like Gaston because he’s a villain in the animated film, but I do NOT like him as a character because he’s terrible. However, I actually liked him in this film. Luke Evans was so charismatic that he was more on the thin line of being a villain more than giving off that impression the entire time. I think it helped that he wasn’t a gigantic muscular dude. His humor was on point, his facial expressions when he’s admiring himself, when Belle turns him down, when he gets angry but is calmed down by LeFou, it was on point. I quite enjoyed him. Plus, I don’t think I ever disliked Luke Evans in a film. It’s easy to see that he enjoyed playing this part. When he did go into full villain mode, he was a scary dude. His demeanor changed and that makes for a scary villain.
Supporting Characters. Oh man. I’m going to go through them as quickly as I can.
Ewan McGregor as Lumiere. I think he was my favorite. I read about Ewan McGregor being worried about the accent, I’m not French but I thought it sounded fine. At least for the type of film and character. I liked that he was a little man who could make his form look like a candelabra, it helped him move differently and quickly. His take charge and almost busy body attitude makes him the orchestrator for a lot of things. Lumiere was also the source of a lot of humor in the castle. He’s so romantic and carefree it’s hard to dislike his character. His mocking impressions were great. The emotion at the end… *sniffs*
Sir Ian McKellan as Cogsworth. He was great. He’s the head of the household but he’s totally afraid of The Beast. It’s hilarious see him to talk about him to the others but when he thinks he’s around, how scared he gets. McKellan has a great voice and at first it might be odd but it fit the character. He also had some dry humor going on which I love.
Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts. She’s amazing. Her Mrs. Potts is the same in her motherly attitude towards everyone but don’t make her mad, she will put you in your place. I loved it. The voice Thompson put on for her showed that she was mostly likely a village woman and obviously a servant. I loved her relationship with Chip and how she was the one who tried to guide the others.
Kevin Kline as Maurice. He was great, definitely can see in a way where Belle gets her “oddities” and headstrong personality from. Kevin Kline is great in this role. He is an active father and will do anything for his daughter.
Josh Gad as LeFou. He’s very different from his animated counter part, which was fine with me, all that controversy for this character didn’t bother me. He’s funny, he didn’t overdo it which I think he can do a lot. The little nuances he did for this character was great and cute.
Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe. A renowned opera singer who gets turned into a wardrobe. I bet Audra McDonald had fun in the recording studio for her character, she sings more than she actually talks and she’s hilarious. Being that as the petals fall they become less and less human, she has a hard time staying awake. It’s great. Also, Audra McDonald is a QUEEN. Her voice!
Gugu Mbtha-Raw as Plumette. Also has a French accent, I think it’s really just her and Lumiere which was fine. She was flirty, sassy and romantic. I also loved her reveal at the end, it was so cute.
Nathan Mack as Chip. Aww so cute! He definitely seemed a bit older than his animated counterpart, but he was cheeky and used his saucer as a skateboard, which like Lumiere, helped him move around quicker.
Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza. I love Stanley Tucci, he’s a chameleon. He was a cool character, we don’t see tons from him but a talking piano, that’s awesome. He has some great scenes at the end with the mob.
The Costumes. Jacqueline Durran’s costumes are to die for! The attention to detail on them just blew my mind as I watched the film. I liked the little pockets on Belle’s apron, I liked the detail on the inside of her cloak. The red/pink dress she wears during the “Something There” was so beautiful. I know a lot of people didn’t like her dress but I loved it from the first time I saw it. It pays homage to the original dress but it puts it’s own spin on it. I’m not a big ruffle person but the way the dress moved, it worked. I read it took 12,000+ hours to make that dress. It was beautiful on Emma Watson. The Beast wears this tattered cloak and it’s so haunting and scary, it shows that he is still in his angry and pity mindset. Later, he wears this long blue cloak and OMG I wanted that thing. His suit during the dance was also beautiful and the suit at the end. The attention to detail on the clothes. Gaston’s red coat in his iconic “Gaston” scene was also beautifully made, I want that too. All of the clothes, all of the nods to the French fashion was there.
The Relationships. This is going to be broken down a bit.
Belle and the Beast. Of course this is the most important one and I thought they handled it well. They added a bit more for them to do, more conversations and interactions. We can see the influence she has on him. The looks they give each other, it’s really cute. I thought Emma and Dan had great chemistry, even with the CGI Beast lol. The ending is also really cute.
Belle and Gaston. He was definitely persistent and it was funny. However, I liked the fact that she always just said “no” or turned him down without stroking his ego. I also liked how she stood up to him during the climax. It showed her strength even more.
Belle and Maurice. Such a great father/daughter relationship. He really loves her and would do anything for her, and same for her. She wastes no time in going to him both times. The love they have for each other was evident, I thought Watson and Kline had some great chemistry.
The Beast and his servants. Always a humorous relationship. They are his family, no matter how badly he may have treated them. They were afraid of him but they also stood up to him quite a bit, mostly Mrs. Potts and Lumiere. The scene before the dance was a great scene with all of them.
Lumiere and Plumette. So cute and romantic. I also loved the interracial aspect of it.
Lumiere and Cogsworth. Of course, a great friendship. It’s easy to see that they are polar opposites but Cogsworth respects Lumiere’s carefree attitude and Lumiere appreciates Cogsworth’s loyalty and sarcastic comments. The ending scene when the last petal falls, quite emotional.
Mrs. Potts and Chip. I’m glad the whole idea of Mrs. Potts have 50 million children was “addressed” here, lol but they were adorable. Her frantic-ness at the end. This mother loves her son and I don’t think she was too old to have a kid that young. *rolls eyes*
Maestro Cadenza and Madame Garderobe. Another interracial that I loved. They were separated due to the curse as she’s a wardrobe and he’s a piano but the end lol. He misses her voice and she misses his music, perfect couple.
The Production Design. The sets on this film are so beautiful. The Beast’s castle is so large, with it’s many twists and turns and the attention to detail with the French inspired architecture. The way it continues to change as the rose continues to wilt is pretty amazing. The layout of his entire land, whenever there was an aerial view of the castle grounds, it was so breathtaking. The town is also nicely done, it looks like a small town, closed in which helps adds why Belle wants to leave it. The forest, the way the snow looked in the forest, and even how it looked at the castle. So beautiful.
The Character Design. I’ll mention this again later, but I liked how the supporting characters looked in their looks. I thought with Lumiere being a little man who can manipulate his appearence to look like a candelabra was smart and unique. It allows him to move quickly and more. Cogsworth was so intricately designed. I understand that some found Mrs. Potts and Chip to be creepy, but seeing them on the screen, I don’t think so. Definitely French designed tea set. I was a little wary about Plumette’s look but I ended up loving it. I liked the fact that she could fly, it made sense with all of her feathers and it made it easier for her to maneuver and do her thing, she was also really beautiful. The wardrobe, seeing her talk was kind of weird but awesome at the same time, her design was great and the piano as well. All of the trinkets in the house were very well designed.
The Music. Alan Menken returned to help with the music once again, especially as the iconic songs were slightly changed in their arrangement and he wrote four new songs for the film. I liked that The Beast had a song, it helped give a bit more insight to him at the moment and it was my favorite song actually. There’s a song that the main people in the castle sing and it was very sweet. It reminded me of “Human Again” but it was a slow and sweet song. Belle also has a song in a particular part of the film, I liked the song. Maurice also has a quick short song. The other songs were also very well done and I think the actors did well in the singing of them. I was impressed.
The Musical Numbers. So this film is definitely a musical and for the most part, they are very similar to how they are in the animated film which isn’t a bad thing, but they do put their own updated spin on it. In the “Belle” number, the town is smaller so it feels a bit more suffocating and I don’t think there is a Bookshop, I think that dude was the Priest but just happened to have books that Belle could borrow. I also loved how Gaston and LeFou were outside the town (which makes sense if they were hunting lol). “Be Our Guest” was also well done, it was colorful, it wasn’t as big as it could have been but I thought it was sweet and they did a good job. “Something There” allowed for us to see more interactions with Belle and the Beast and it was cute and had some funny moments. “Gaston” was definitely the most fun and “Beauty and the Beast” was lovely.
The story/Updates. So the story is the same as the animated film, obviously, they take some notes from the original story in which Belle asks Maurice to bring her a rose from his travels. I love this story. It’s not Stockholm Syndrome, especially not even here because she definitely could have escaped, was going too and she even leaves.
The updates (without spoiling): I’m just gonna name a few, I think a lot of the updates helped answer questions the original left a question.
The fact that Maurice was a music box crafter.
Belle made her own washing machine and wanted to teach girls how to read.
Maurice’s reactions to the castle.
Some extra details in the opening scene, about why the town doesn’t seem to know about the castle and prince.
A few more conversations between Belle and the Beast in understanding each other
How Belle got the Beast back to the castle after the wolf attack
A conversation between Gaston and Maurice
The Transformation Scene. I was worried on how they were going to do this scene and I thought it was handled well. It’s ultimately the same, but how it gets started is a bit different and I don’t mean with Belle’s confession. There’s a nice musical beat and BOOM. It was even better the second time around. Of course the close up shot of his eyes is always important. Funny thing: When I saw it the first time, and Dan Stevens did his dramatic turn around, my friend and little sister said “Ooooo” and “OH he’s hot. Oh yes” lol. When I saw it the second time, and he turned around my two friends said “Gaston is way cuter” and I just cracked up. I find Dan Stevens to be very handsome and I love his eyes and I think Luke Evans is also very handsome, two very different looking men.
The Beast’s Animation. Overall, I liked his look but there were a few times in the film where it looked weird. Sometimes when there was a wide shot where he see his full body, it was strange. Also, in his solo song, he’s like bounding around, it looked kind of weird at times. Also, it would have been nice if he was a bit bigger, in terms of width, like his chest could have been a bit bigger. Sometimes, his height seemed to change, it might have been the camera angles but at times he looked maybe a foot or two taller than Belle and other times he look huge! It was inconsistent.
The Opening Scene. So, I appreciate the opening in that we get to actually see the Prince be a jerk, but it was also a little weird. I think it was the narration that wasn’t doing it for me. I think it would have been better to just see it without the narration attached.
The Paris Scene. So there’s a scene in the film, it’s about the halfway mark that I could have done without. It was cute and sweet and I liked Belle’s song but I also don’t think it was necessary. It seemed to be a deleted scene that was left in the film.
Overall, I loved this movie. It was easy for me to separate this from the animated film. I think the animated film is the best Disney movie to date and I was excited to hear about what they were planning to do. I was excited and I think my expectations were met, it didn’t exceed them but met them. I expected a good film, with a new spin on the original and I think I got that. If you love the original and think it should never be touched then you might not like this and should not see it. If you refuse to have an open mind, then don’t bother. If you love the original but are curious to see what they do, then check it out. The original will never go away, it will always be superior and it will always be there.
Beauty and the Beast did a lot of things right, the casting was well done, everyone was great in their roles, their respective looks and songs were good and I enjoyed watching and listening. I think Emma Watson and Dan Stevens had great chemistry and I think Ewan McGregor and Luke Evans were standouts in their roles. The music holds up, even with slightly new arrangements it’s still beautiful and I enjoyed the new songs. I loved the look of the film, the costumes, the production design, the attention to detail given to everything is so evident to me that I think this film will be a contender in some technical awards Oscar season. It does have it’s missteps, I think the animation of the Beast goes in and out on looking real at times, the opening narration just didn’t do it for me, I wish it was just the scene, the extra plot scene could have been put on the deleted scenes floor.
With that said… I still loved this movie.
Rating: 4. 27 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Beauty and the Beast? Have you seen the original? If not, what’s wrong with you? What did you think of the remake? Comment below in the comments and let me know!
My Disney Live Action Remake List from Best to Least Best:
Beauty and the Beast
I don’t count Pete’s Dragon as I never saw the original.
**I almost forgot about this, but in reference to my asterisks above, I wanted to mention about the Prince’s age in the animated film. I never thought that he was a child, I always assumed that time stopped. I mean, thinking about it now, it’s odd because that would mean did the town age? Or…? But the stained glass windows in the opening of the film didn’t look like a child whereas I guess in the Enchanted Christmas, he was a kid. I don’t know… it’s always weird to me. So I’m glad they made sure we knew he was an adult in this film.