Okay, so it’s 11PM, just got home from the cinemas, and, knowing full well that I have to be up before sunrise tomorrow morning, I’ve decided that now is as good a time as any to write this review (come morning, I’m so going to regret doing this now).
Just going to throw this out there: although we all know how the story goes, this review does contain minor spoilers, you have been warned.
Recently Disney has been rebooting everything it can get its hands on, and although at first, this seemed like it would simply continue the Hollywood curse of reboots being bad, The Jungle Book proved us so wrong. And Disney has yet again proven that reboots can be good.
Beauty and the Beast was glorious (yes friends, glorious). The acting was, as much as I hate using this phrase, on point; the graphics were amazing and the music matched everything perfectly.
The musical scores were a little longer than I remember them being (the song at the start, in the village, felt a little longer than necessary) but that’s not much of a problem when you get to take in all the colours, shapes and sizes of the stylised traditional French garbs of the time.
I could never quite tell if it was Emma Watson singing, or if it was the autotune (if it was her, then cudos for being an amazing singer), but either way, the way in which she sang felt natural and unforced (something many musicals just can’t seem to get right). Beast, on the other hand, his singing was incredible; if life had a narrator and I could choose what my narrator sounded like, I’d choose his voice.
The rest of the voice acting in the film was also quite amazing, I almost didn’t recognise Ian McKellen until his character, Cogsworth, was returned to human form.
The cinematography and CGI left nothing to be desired but still left room for a little imagination, giving imaginative minds room to move but still providing the bulk of the visuals. The pacing of the film was perfect, many musicals just skip a lot of story and character development by simply throwing emotional revelations into the next song/musical piece, but Beauty and the Beast manages to avoid that entirely, using the songs more for expression and less for plot skipping.
One thing that did bug me though, is that the latest rendition of everyone’s favourite song (performed by Ariana Grande and John Legend) didn’t actually make it into the film; they went the nostalgic route, having Miss Potts (Emma Thompson) sing the piece instead.
I’m going to assume you all heard the news about a certain character being gay well before the film was released, but that isn’t a major plot point. You know what is? Belle’s mother and how she died. Beast shows Belle a book that the enchantress (the one who turned him into a beast) gave him; the book allows the reader to transport themselves to anywhere in the world, all they have to do is think of the place. Fairly early on in the film, we find out that Belle’s mother died when Belle was still a baby, we also find out that they lived in Paris until her mother died, and the film makes a point of telling us “Belle wants to know more about her mother”.
Belle uses the book to go back to her old home in Paris, and it is here where we find out how her mother died. It wasn’t murder and it certainly wasn’t old age, but I won’t spoil it for you.
While I watched Beauty and the Beast, I was constantly wondering how they would place Belle and Beast in a relationship without making it feel forced (which can be tricky to do, considering the fact that the whole world already knows the story). Needless to say, the production team got it just right; Belle and Beast slowly opened up to one another after the altercation with the wolves, and their relationship moved quickly enough so as to fit into a certain timeframe but not too quickly so as to skip character development. The interplay between Beast and Belle was interesting enough, but Beast’s relationship with his servants (or rather, his household appliances) is even more interesting.
The previous Beauty and the Beast film didn’t really delve into it that much, but this latest iteration of the story explains all; the servants are as trapped in the castle as he is, and they continue to show him love and kindness in the hopes that he will one day change his ways, mentioning that it was his father who twisted him into such a cruel person.
We all know how the story goes; we all know how it starts and we all know how it ends; but it really did feel like I was watching Beauty and the Beast for the first time in my life.