The live action version of Beauty and the Beast could have been a great movie, it wasn’t. I love the animated movie and the Broadway play. I am not attached to the live action being identical to the animated one. The Animated and Broadway were hardly the same and what I love about each of them was different. Now that’s cleared up…
I struggled with this movie. A lot of it didn’t feel natural and the singing was too post-processed or something to work for me. I loved pretty much every new song and very much disliked all the “originals” carried over from the animated one. I appreciated adding some music from Broadway in the mix, but am glad they forfeited the added Broadway songs…with the exception of “Me,” which I wish was included (Listen on YouTube. Purchase on Amazon (aff)). This movie had powerful potential, but it tried in most of the wrong ways to channel the original film while changing some things here and there. It usually didn’t flow well.
There were several things I liked that were changed – Maurice was wonderful. The backstory of Belle’s mother was appreciated. Beast being educated and well-read was lovely. I was also glad “the prince” wasn’t a child refusing an old woman shelter, but a young man. I also appreciated the nod to the original fairy tale in the form of the picking of the rose being the offense, not a weary traveller.
They tried so hard to eliminate the problematic timeline of the animated movie (instead of the rose blooming till he was 21 it’s simply “when the last petal falls”. Instead of rusting for ten years it’s “a long time”), however, they added their own problematic timeline. By various references to days past, Belle could not have been at the castle for even a week and a half. Everything that happened between Beast & Belle indicates a longer, more realistic timeline. It’s unfortunate they goofed here when they were obviously trying to remedy the old timeline.
I have uncertain feelings toward the treatment of Gaston. He’s moved from unlikeable to downright reprehensible. He also seems almost bipolar at times, and it doesn’t work well. This change of character from macho jock to utterly despicable makes LeFou’s hero worship more unbelievable.
On LeFou and his controversy. Yes, I do think it’s obvious he is attracted to Gaston and wants the affection to be returned. He buys people off and does things he thinks are wrong in hopes of earning this regard. There is no reciprocation and nothing happens. If you’re watching with children in mind, and this is something you are concerned about, they may not pick up on it. But, if they do, it’s an opportunity to talk about it. Whether or not you like homosexuality, it is a part of the world we live in.
In that vein, the wardrobe garbs three men as women during the castle attack – two run off embarrassed while one looks satisfied and flounces off with the wardrobe telling him to “be free”. He and Gaston end up dancing together at the end of the movie. It should be noted that the wardrobe dresses a man as a woman in the animated movie also.
There is a loose end in the film regarding the priest of the village, which is very unfortunate, especially as it would not have been difficult to tie up.
The sets and scenery are stunning. The new songs are moving. In fact, with the exception of Gaston, most deviations work well. It’s when they try to put a spin on the familiar that it fails. This means the film oscillates between being hard to swallow and enjoyable. Sadly, the hard to swallow moments are more prevalent.