Friday, March 17, 2017

Movie Review: Beauty And The Beast

Going into this movie review means bringing along a part of my childhood, it can't be helped seeing as "Beauty and the Beast" was a big, big part of "Preschool Ica's" life. I had "Beauty and the Beast" lunchbox, sleeping bag etc! I sketched Belle a hundred times on whatever piece of paper I could get my hands on. I've memorized all the songs and all the dialogue in the film. Throw me a line or a verse from the original movie and there's a good chance that I can tell you what comes next. 

And so, it is with this that I inform you, dear reader that there will be a lot of comparisons between the original animated movie to the 2017 live action remake.  

As per usual, I will still be discussing my insights and thoughts on the film, and yes, I will even be talking about 'that' "controversy". 

First of all, let me go ahead and say that I loved Bill Condon's take on the animated classic with a more logical, historically accurate and relevant remake. I was pleasantly happy and surprised that a lot of loopholes from the original 1991 film were addressed.   

For Example: 

1. When the wolves leave Belle and an injured Beast- how does Belle carry Beast onto Philippe and go back to the castle? 

2. How is it that the villagers don't know about castle? "And all who live there" -its not like the castle is far away? 

Well, I'm glad to say that all these (and more) are answered in the film and I just loved it! 

Gaston is a war veteran (he protected the town from Portuguese marauders in 1740, which is why he is somewhat of a celebrity and he also possibly has PTSD. Source here.) 

A plague is mentioned is mentioned in passing, all these little bits of added information which places the story in a more realistic perspective just makes the film even more enjoyable, especially for a history geek like me. The costumes and make up is also more periodic and historically accurate. (Bonus) 

We also get a sneak peek of just how "spoiled, selfish and unkind" the prince is, before he is turned into a Beast- (he would tax the villagers for his lavish parties and pretty things.) The audience also gets to understand the Beast more-why did he grow up to be a spoiled prince? 

The enchanted staff of the castle castle is also given a brighter spotlight - do they hate the Beast for being "collateral damage" to his punishment? 

We also see that Lumiere and the gang have more to lose if the last petal were to fall. 

I think my heart broke for these guys and I could probably attribute 3 tears to one scene with these lovable characters.  

The film also expounds on women empowerment - "Its not right for women to read, soon she starts getting ideas and thinking". The villagers think that Belle is odd because she reads, the film expounds on this more as they also discuss education and literacy. I don't know if those who saw film noticed that little boys went to school while little girls did the laundry. 

Also, as Gaston is trying to woo Belle into marrying him he points out that when a girl's father dies, she becomes a spinster, she can't work and must beg for food to eat. (Wow. Talk about being dependent on men.)

Let's move on to Production, (more on "dissecting" the movie later on). Its rare for an audience to applaud in the middle of the film but that #BeOurGuest sequence was magical to say the least, it was a musical spectacle worthy to be seen in the glory of the cinema.  

Kudos to Ewan McGregor's impressive performance of the hilarious candelabra. 

I would have to say that another musical number worth praising is an updated (with some new stanzas) is "Gaston" which features more singing and more dancing from an incredibly talented cast. Luke Evans as the former Army Captain is just spot on! He looks the part, acts the part and boy does he sing the part! He can reach those notes. I know that Emma Watson is not really a singer but Paul and I couldn't  help but notice that she had to sing from a lower range from the original Paige O'Hara and if you grew up singing those songs, there is a satisfaction in just hitting those high notes. (Beauty and the Beast Karaoke Night anyone?). 

Another update in the film that I appreciated is that the story gives time to show that Beast and Belle enjoy each other's company, they enjoy talking about books, that they have a shared interest. We all know that Belle is a bookworm and with the Beast's "expensive education" it would only be natural that they can share a conversation about Shakespeare.

Now, lets talk about that "gay character controversy"  it might not have made much of a impact in our generally "open" country but before the movie was released, a statement from Director Bill Condon about LeFou being gay was met with backlash, resulting to a drive in theater Alabama refusing to screen the film and Malaysia also doing the same

Honestly, all of this is just a big overreaction and these people don't know what they're missing. This gay take on LeFou is very subtle and Josh Gad's portrayal is done very well. Yes, his character is devoted to Gaston but we must understand that they were together in the war and was there for all of his heroic moments, these two go way back. We all know that Gaston is a brute and does not treat his loyal friend very well, this is also the same in the animated movie, when he leaves LeFou in the snow as "look out". 

Well its also the same in the live action version, Gaston is also mean to LeFou, using him for his own gain, now its up to this new LeFou to decide if he will stand up for it and if he will be able to see Gaston for what he truly is and standing up to someone who doesn't treat us right (even if we do like them) is something we can all learn. 

Those people who have decided not to see the film because of the character are missing a lot. Josh Gad's LeFou is fun and fresh, devoted to a fault yet audiences will love him for sure! 

Now, lets go to some  bits I was not really a big fan of and this is just me nitpicking. 

The transformation scene when (spoiler) the Beast turns back into a Prince was a little underwhelming, I mean, the original was such an iconic scene, even getting a spoof from the first "Shrek" movie. 

There were also some lines from Beast in the original that I would have wanted to see in the film, when he says: "Then go ahead and starve!" Its such a fun line (and I think the delivery also has something to do with it) -that there's even a meme for it. 

I saw this meme in a list of things that parents want to tell their children :P 

This one filed under "When the kids don't want to eat their food". 

I also preferred the "Get Out" line over (what was in the movie, won't say it on account of spoilers). 

Well, what else can I say? The husband has already pointed out that I've spent longer on this review than normal and its because there are just so many things to talk about and I can't wait for friends to see it so we can get lost in discussion on the film. 

9/10 - invitation for "Beauty and the Beast Karaoke Night" is still open! The film is already showing in cinemas! 

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