I am a Disney Princess fanatic and as a child I watched almost every movie a million times on loop. I was not a huge fan of 2015’s live- action remake of Cinderella but I was incredibly excited about Beauty and the Beast because of Emma Watson. Don’t you just love her? So I did immediately watch the film but took some time to write a review because I wanted to let it sink in before I decided on an opinion.
I have to say a few days on, this review is still difficult to write because the movie was a combination of being fantastic and average. Overall though, the live action version is visually incredible and as expected Emma Watson steals the show. She is fierce and fearless and there could not be a better actress to bring Belle to life. The movie is longer than the original animated version and I liked what they added to the film especially the back stories of both Belle and the Beast.
The cast sing the songs themselves and I thought it was very average with the exception of Luke Evans who has a brilliant voice. Everyone else was unfortunately heavily auto-tuned. For a film that relies so heavily on music perhaps they should have dealt with this better. In India cinema we are so used to vocal dubbing that we never have bad singing in a movie. Of course that reduces the authenticity but then in a movie with talking cutlery and beasts perhaps we have already left reality behind?
The original songs therefore lose a bit of their magic and the new ones are so forgettable it doesn’t matter. The new songs made it feel like there were just too many songs in the film for no good reason. They had a brilliant cast so they could have just had more dialogue. ‘Be our guest’ is underwhelming which is odd given that we now have better special effects than in the nineties when the original was made. The stand-out number is strangely enough ‘Gaston’ which is elevated in this live action version.
The film chose to represent the animated houseware characters more realistically than the animated film. I wasn’t very comfortable with this approach because none of them had any expressions like in the animated film. In the original, these characters are critical to changing Belle’s perspective and are just as important as Belle and the Beast. Somehow they are nowhere as lively in this version. What a shame it is that a live-action film with great actors (Ian Mckellen is Cogsworth and all he gets is a clock face!) is less human than the animated one.
One of the most incredible things about the movie is definitely the costumes. I sense another Oscar for costume designer Jacqueline Durran who has done a fantastic job on the costumes. Like Emma Watson’s clothes on the press tour, some of the costumes have also been ethically sourced and are eco-friendly which I loved. The iconic yellow dress is a dream and may I just ask where can I get that fabulous ear cuff?! I also loved the designer’s take on the original costumes, they are all beautiful. Yes some of them have Indian embroidery #sohappy. The wedding dress at the end also deserves a special mention, it is breathtaking.
There has been a lot of talk about Stockholm syndrome and feminism but perhaps one should look at ‘Beauty and the Beast’ from a different perspective. As a tale about the importance of kindness and not judging people based on their looks. Something that is much needed in our world today.
p.s : Did anyone else find it supremely strange that Ewan McGregor with a French accent was cast as Lumiere?