Beauty and The Beast (2017) Review
Beauty and the Beast is pure Disney magic. It is brilliantly crafted, bringing back the musical genre that people love while adding nuances and details that make the film even greater. From the flawless performance of Belle to the original song Evermore, passionately sung by Dan Stevens as the Beast, from the beautiful costume and production design to the stunning visual effects, Beauty and the Beast is a film created with passion and executed with precision.
All songs featured in the animated Beauty and the Beast were featured in the live-action version and they were executed spectacularly. Stand-out musical numbers were Belle, Be Our Guest and the original song Evermore. The opening of the film with the performance of Belle was magnificent and drew the viewer in; the stunning production of Be Our Guest was a marvel to behold and the impressive ballad Evermore surprised viewers with amazing lyrics and Stevens' vocals.
Emma Watson’s casting as Belle was a perfect decision. Watson embodies the character flawlessly, while adding her own touches that flesh out the character even more. She truly becomes a live action Disney princess. There were even distinctions added to Belle's character. The character of Belle was, in fact, created as a direct response to some of the negative criticism about boy-crazy Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
Belle's passion for reading and disregard of Gaston and marriage has been a staple for the character. But, reading can be seen as a passive activity if nothing is really done with it; in the live-action Beauty and the Beast, not only does Belle read and sing her heart out about "adventure in the great wide somewhere," she also teaches girls how to read and is an inventor like her father. While these details may be small, they make a significant difference to Belle and the film overall.
Everyone in the film brought their characters to life wonderfully, from Luke Evans as Gaston to Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s father. The new details added to the relationship of Belle and her father turned the character of Maurice from a goofy inventor to a competent, loving dad. It was beautiful to watch a positive father-daughter relationship be highlighted in such a way. A simple example of Maurice and Belle's relationship is Belle's participation in inventing, like her father, while always ready to hand her father whatever gadget he needs with a fond look and a smile.
While some say the live-action Beauty and the Beast is an exact replica of the animated film, the director, writers, and actors added new flourishes to the film to flesh out a great story while still satisfying die-hard fans of the original animated movie. Beauty and the Beast is a near perfect film but there are negative aspects that don’t take away from the story of the film yet need to be addressed.
Before Beauty and the Beast was released, director Bill Condon released a statement that the character LeFou, Gaston’s sidekick/friend, has an “exclusively gay moment” with Gaston and is a part of the LGBTQ community. In the film, it is a very small moment and it’s been very overblown. LeFou’s sexuality is not completely acknowledged in the film and any “gay moments” with LeFou’s character are played for laughs, which is similar to queer-baiting. Condon’s statement unnecessarily had viewers looking for evidence of LeFou’s sexuality rather than paying attention to the character himself.
Also, a small criticism is related to the character Gaston. Luke Evans portrays the character wonderfully and is true to the animated Gaston at the start, yet as the film goes on and Gaston becomes a true evil, he loses his fun factor and his flourish.
Overall, Beauty and the Beast is a beauty to behold—from the musical numbers to the actors' performances. If this is what Disney can do with a live-action Beauty and the Beast, fans everywhere have a lot to look forward to with the upcoming live-action adaptations of Aladdin, Mulan, and The Lion King.