Monday, April 17, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

I finally got to see a movie at the cinema for the first time this year. As a huge fan of the Disney animated movie that came out in 1991, I was definitely very interested to see the live action version of Beauty and the Beast.

What did I think of it? I found it enjoyable but I still think the animated version is better. I love the fact that the new version allows us to hear the same wonderful songs but it adds a couple of new songs that help add layers to the story. I love that it maintains the overall flow and feel of the original story but adds a few twists and makes a few adjustments that help make the viewing experience feel fresh and new. It's actually good that the Beast is now well-read, as you would expect a prince to be, and that there is some explanation as to how the he became "spoiled, selfish and unkind". The visual effects are absolutely stunning and they transport the audience to a wonderful new world. I also think it's cool that the movie also incorporates a bit more of the original fairy tale into it by having Belle ask Maurice for a rose and that the Beast actually throws Maurice in the dungeon for "stealing" a rose from his garden.

For the most part, the acting and the singing were solid. I think the revelation here was Luke Evans who for me stole the show as Gaston. I also thought that Kevin Kline was very good as Maurice and he portrayed the character more like a quirky inventor that the rest of the villagers couldn't relate to rather than a loony old man. I have to say though that as good as most of the cast was, the original voice cast - Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts, Jerry Orbach as Lumiere, and David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth - can never be equalled. As one commenter on youtube said, Angela Lansbury's voice just has so much character that it's hard to come close to how much life she brings to Mrs. Potts and how beautifully she sings Beauty and the Beast. The animated version also has the more stunning ballroom scene. I was also a bit disappointed in Emma Watson's performance. Given how good she was in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I thought that the cartoon Belle was actually a lot more expressive than her. I guess she was going for a more understated delivery but given how much Belle wants "more than this provincial life" and how much she wants to "have adventure in the great, wide somewhere", I found that Emma's low-key approach didn't quite work in portraying the emotions that Belle should have been feeling inside.

Since I started talking about the original voice cast, here's a fun fact: did you know that the same person - David Ogden Stiers - provides the voice for both Cogsworth and the narrator of the Prologue? I was shocked when I first found out because the voices of these two are so strikingly different. To remind you, this is the original prologue.

video uploaded by xiᴍᴀɢiɴᴀʀʏʀᴏsᴇ ❤

Another fun fact about the animated film: did you know that Lumiere is voiced by Jerry Orbach who also played tough detective Lennie Brisco for 12 seasons, from 1992 to 2004.

While I absolutely love the original movie and I enjoyed this new one, there has always been one thing that bothered me about it. I always though that the enchantress who cast a spell on the castle and all who lived there was mean and a bit of a bully. It was the prince who cast her away and yet she turned everyone in the castle into household items. I guess they try to address that in the new movie, with Mrs. Potts telling Belle that everyone in the castle allowed the prince to become the way he was so they were being punished for it as well. But come on, you can't really stand up to royalty in the olden days and expect not to get punished. (Think Game of Thrones LOL.) But I will just allow this movie that one flaw and enjoy everything else about it.

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