If you’re looking for a review without spoilers or gushing, you may want to head to IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes because this is not the review for you.
I went into Beauty and the Beast (2017) with my hopes high and fully expecting to be crushed with disappointment. I had bought a magazine on the making of the movie and spent spring break browsing the pictures and scanning the articles. I felt as though I were hyping myself up for a major heart break, much like what happened with Kong (but that’s a review for another day). Fears ranging from being a gimmick with big actors (all of which I love) to new songs being a major flop were making me quite skeptical. However, being a major Disney fan, I had to see it opening weekend despite my doubts.
Beauty and the Beast has quickly become one of my new obsessions. This remake was so incredible that I saw it twice in the opening weekend and I’m hoping to see it for a third time as soon as I can think of a valid excuse. I’ve got the soundtrack downloaded to my phone and the new songs are played just as frequently as the classics we all know and love accompanied by a beautiful score. I’m actually listening to it as I write this.
As I mentioned, I was worried the major actors were being used to distract from a poor remake and to get people into the theatre. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As if Emma Watson couldn’t be more wonderful, she played a spectacular Belle and made the character much more practical and relatable. Dan Stevens was able to further humanize Beast without taking away his power or commanding presence. Not only were the main characters perfectly cast, everyone’s favorite castle ensemble knocked it out of the park. I had the most doubts about Ewan McGregor playing Lumière. I haven’t seen much of his previous work and knew this was a make or break character for the film. That’s a hard role to tackle but McGregor did it with grace. Lumière was just as fun, if not even more so, than in the original. Guru Mbatha-Raw played a flirty and nurturing Babette that made Lumière’s interactions fun and spontaneous. Both Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts) and Sir Ian McKellen (Cogsworth) I expected to be great, since I’d seen much more of their previous work. Much like I’ve said about everyone else so far, they were spectacular in their roles and gave even more dimension to classic Disney characters. Even new characters were fun and exciting. Cadenza and Madame de la Grande Bouche while not being new, were given almost new roles in this version and made for a new favorite pairing in the castle. Luke Evans was an absolutely hilarious Gaston. His comedic timing was spot on and showed Gaston’s darker side without seeming over the top. Josh Gad’s performance perfectly complimented Evans’ Gaston. Gad’s LeFou was more independent in this version and made the sidekick somewhat of a hero in the end when he switches sides.
I’ve probably gushed enough about this movie, right? Well, unfortunately for you, I haven’t even talked about the technical aspects. The costumes for this movie were larger than life. I adore theming in costumes and Jacqueline Durran did not disappoint. Each couple or group in the show had matching but unique costumes. LeFou and Gaston were more subtle in their pairing while Cadenza and Madame de la Grande Bouche were matching top to bottom in massive costumes that matched the decor of the castle. Belle’s costumes were made more practical with boots rather than flats and dresses (or even undergarments) that she could ride a horse in. Durran made whimsical yet practical costumes that were breathtaking.
The sets, like everything else in the movie, were gorgeous. Many being studio sets while some being CGI, all were spectacular. The colors in the castle were light and reflected the vanity Beast had before meeting Belle. The outside and the inside of the castle were both massive and beautiful. The library was different than the original but, in my opinion, much better. It was bigger and cluttered, similar to the environment an avid bookworm might feel comfortable in. The French village was quaint and bright making it the perfect setting for a poor, provincial town. The pub rang true to the cartoon but did have a new, more Gaston feel to it.
As I mentioned, the soundtrack for this movie is everything the old one was and more. The new songs are touching and ring true to the classics, as Alan Menken probably intended. One of my personal favorites is Evermore, a new song entirely from the perspective of Beast.
The CGI was also rather impressive in this show. I get very nervous when I know movies will use a lot of CGI because it runs the risk of looking fake and unbelievable. My main concern was Beast. I was worried Beast would be noticeably fake and would take away from the romance between him and a character acted in person. Fortunately, my fears were yet again proven wrong. Beast looked incredible. His eyes looked human while other features were actually quite intimidating. The facial movements mimicked the way a person would normally talk and were full of life and expression. I know they used a newer method for making Beast with CGI to capture a wider range of expression. This made Dan Stevens act his part twice essentially, but the result was well worth it. Be Our Guest was another concern of mine but somehow they made the iconic song even better. The song itself is new and fun, the CGI was spectacular and the choreography was exciting.
Acting is often hard and awkward with that much CGI so there were some awkward moments but they were tiny moments that you might not even notice. The most awkward and noticeable one for me was when Belle was being dressed by Madame de la Grande Bouche. It was cute and made the children in the theatre laugh but it was a bit awkward to watch. My first time seeing it wasn’t the best experience. I was put front row and the only movie time available was 3D. Seeing it in 3D from that angle made everything blurry and seemed like I had double vision. If you go to see it in 3D, I’m sure it looks great, but if the theatre is full and front row is likely the only place you can sit, you may want to pick a later time for a better seat.
While there were changes and additions, they all added a new depth to the story. Belle’s backstory was one of my favorite additions. Her character became so much more interesting in this movie than it had ever been before. Beast became even more sympathetic and human in this version than the classic by learning about this mother’s death and showing he did have a loving side when he was young. Minor changes like Belle’s dress and Maurice’s character were refreshing. We got to see a new interpretation of a classic and it gave new life to the story. As for the LeFou addition of being gay, this didn’t change his character in the slightest and added another happy ending during the final ball scene. If anything, it made LeFou more interesting.
I really can’t recommend this movie enough. Even movies that I’ve seen recently that I was impressed by didn’t get my attention quite as much as this one. I know I probably sound like a crazy Disney fan, but that’s not the reason I’m so fond of this movie. I’m quite critical of movies so if I’m not a fan of certain things, I’m not shy with my opinion. If you love Disney, musicals, fantasy, romance, or happiness, you should see this movie. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.