Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years, Disney have released a live action Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) and Luke Evans (I genuinely hadn’t seen him in anything else, so I can’t put a snazzy comment in here). Oh, and, spoilers.
Edd and I finally went to see it today – I was fully expected to go in, weep with joy and come out with a ten out of ten rating – it didn’t quite give me the reaction I was hoping for.
Emma Watson’s Belle is so unlikeable that I actually don’t blame her fellow villagers for being really icky about her. I don’t know if it’s Watson, or the scriptwriting, but Belle very clearly thinks she deserves more than those around her. That said, the relationship between Belle and her father is lovely. There’s also her singing that was a bit of an issue for me. I understand that she’s not a trained singer, and doesn’t have the musical theatre background or experience that some of her co-stars have, but given the training that goes in pre-production, I expected a little better. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice enough voice, but not good enough for one of the greatest Disney princesses.
Dan Stevens as the Beast(or Adam, although thinking about it I don’t think that’s mentioned at all in the live action version) is OK. I imagine I’d be singing higher praises if it had been his face we’d seen moving rather than the hairy CGI/make up version. Sometimes you forget how much acting a face does… But I liked him, on the whole. Even witty in parts (though again, probably more down the script than Stevens himself). Same as with the movie though – the Beast is hotter as a Beast. But he has a lovely voice – which is really shown up by his big solo song.
Luke Evans as Gaston – the best casting that could have possible been hoped for. I don’t even know how an actor can be so perfect a fit for a role. I was expecting great things just from the trailer, but as soon as “Gaston” (the song) came on, I knew he was perfect. What a wonderful actor. In fact, I think I’d single Luke Evans out as the best part of the film overall.
Josh Gad as Le Fou – I love Josh Gad. I loved him in Frozen, and then searched out some of his back catalogue and was really pleasantly surprised. As for his performance in that, he veers between wanting Gaston and wanting to be Gaston – and the two work really well…
The Servants – Audra McDonald as the wardrobe – whooaaaaa the voice on this woman! I know her mostly from Private Practice (spin off of Greys Anatomy) where she really irritated me most of the time, but she was great in this.
Lumiere and Cogsworth (Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen respectively – , have you noticed how many surnames start with Mc in this film? Madness) are brilliant – the bickering is funny without being too obvious, and both have a nice amount of wit and banter. It’s also clear that they care about Belle and the Beast as humans, not just wanting to get their human form back. But Emma Thompson as Mrs Potts is the only actor in this I felt was really poor casting – more on that in a bit.
Sorry, what? Obviously I’m not bashing the whole plot of Beauty and the Beast because it’s a damn classic and shush if you think otherwise. HOWEVER, there were a couple of annoying bits.
Firstly, the fight scene. The animated version is frightening enough, however (at the risk of sounding like that British woman in the eighties who wanted everything censored) it got a bit too violent for my taste – Gaston shoots the Beast three times. THREE. [don’t look at me like that, I told you there would be spoilers] I know it’s a PG which usually means “mild peril”, but the Beast actually dies. DIES. And I was sitting there having a little cry, thinking “THIS IS NOT WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS” – there was also a mild peril moment for Chip that had me very sad.
Secondly the “Disney’s first gay moment”. Come on. That was not a gay moment. If we’re going to do this (as we should do) let’s do it properly. Disney’s version of a gay moment was having Le Fou swap dance partners, and suddenly there was a man in his arms. Come on. I almost feel like that’s dragging us backwards, instead of the forward move they were hoping for – a man dances with another man so he has to be gay? Come on. I am ALL FOR Disney having a gay pairing (as long as it’s not Elsa for the sake of it) but let’s do it properly and not as a token.
And finally, the dance scene. If someone asked you to pick a Disney dance, it’s this one – Belle in the beautiful yellow ballgown (as iconic as Cinderella’s blue ballgown, so I was hoping for as well choreographed a dance scene). And there she goes – Emma Watson in that beautiful yellow dress (massive congratulations to the wardrobe department, there could be an Oscar nod), and the beginning of the dance, and the beautiful start of the song…my face was lit up. And then Emma Thompson started singing, and I felt my face fall. I couldn’t enjoy the scene.
I love Emma Thompson, in most circumstances, but not in this. Why did she have a cockney accent? Why didn’t they get Angela Lansbury (the true Mrs Potts) back? WHY DOES SHE HAVE A COCKNEY ACCENT?! It really annoyed me. Bleurgh.
On the whole, I really enjoyed the film, I’d give it a 7 out of 10. But I wasn’t amazed. I wasn’t blown away as I really expected to be. I was slightly disappointed.