Beauty and the Best (Review)

The much anticipated and very highly thought of Disney highlight of the year was finally released yesterday much to everyone's joy. With most people, I was eagerly awaiting it's arrival and after having the afternoon off, I immediately booked the first showing and went in to the screening full of excitement and ready to experience the world of Beauty and the Beast once again.

Click here to watch the trailer or see below.

I came out reserved and disappointed. It's not even that I had such high expectations because I didn't. I didn't think I would go the day it came out and while I defintely wanted to see it, I didn't count down the days until it was released.

I think, as this is a remake, I won't be destroying anyone with the intention of going to see the film themselves if I explain the story. The age-old fairytale of Beauty and the Beast showcases a transformative love. The learning process to not judge someone from the outside is clearly the main message and Belle learns to see the Beast's inner beauty and embrace him for the man he is inside.

Opening with a lavish ball, it immediately kick starts the film by portraying the Prince as a flirty and outrageous partier with a horrible personality. Then the curse.

So frequently recently, Disney are reinventing many of the much loved classic tales of Princesses by casting a big-name celebrity and publically promoting a fan favourite. I feel like that's probably what I was most excited about.

I love Emma Watson. I love her as an actress (thanks to Harry Potter) but I love her as a person. I've watched almost everything she has been in and I love the way she portrays characters so delicately and purely. I thought her casting as Belle was perfect, especially when I saw the previews of her in the stunning yellow ball gown.

Having said that, despite adding a much deeper background to Belle's story, there isn't anything really dramatic to the film. The main difference is the musical aspect. The unnecessary addition of songs throughout actually bored me. Some of the scenes were so long and honestly did nothing for me except bore me. The opening song with the villages was downright annoying! I can't help but imagine what the film would be without the songs. One can only dream.

One scene I specifically remember is when Belle runs to the hills, the picture of A Sound of Music. I almost thought they were going to start singing their songs instead. It's a replica scene from the hills with a similar song message. Moreover, all of Belle's songs are completely over-autotuned. It's actually really disappointing and sounds utterly faked. It's all smooth and perfect and all completely unrealistic.

Dan Stevens who plays the Prince and the Beast, was for me, the real highlight of the feel. He outshone most of the movie and was the pull that kept me watching. I wanted him to keep talking and to share more. I wanted to hear more of his story. The brief introductory offer into his childhood was quickly skipped over and as hard as I hoped for it to come back, it never did. Similarly, the romance never really took off. I was waiting for the tears and the cuteness and the remarks but it just stayed on the same level and remained this causal relationship which meant I never got emotionally invested. The only time it felt even remotely involved was when he protected Belle from the wolves.

The wolves were actually a surprising theme throughout. They were really the reason for everything happened and yet completely full of plot holes. They were there one minute and gone the next. Only coming at the perfect times int he film. More importantly, after just being attacked, the Beast then lets Belle leave again - freely - with no protection. Confusing.

I think all the cursed staff/furniture pieces were really beautifully not only created but cast as well. I really liked the voices and on meeting them at the end of the film, I thought they were all perfect fits. Back as furnitures, it was very cleverly created. The furniture, while minutely cartoonish with the faces, remarkably they kept much of the real-life element. It was incredible how they created them based on antiques while allowing the movements and thinking about each one's own characteristics.

I can't imagine how hard it would have been to film something like this. With so many different parts being added in post-filming. One thing I am looking forward to, is the behind the scenes action and how they were all added in, in editing.

But personally, it's the questions and the missing pieces that left me feeling it was missing the big opportunities and wasting time. The addition of french was a complete waste of time. It was an English movie so stick to English. Plus, while half the staff spoke with French accents, the French Prince did not in the slightest. Annoying. I understand that they were paying homage to the background but honestly, it felt forced and didn't work. But how did they find the castle after being unable to find it for so long...just one of the questions that left me thinking how peculiar the film was.

The only link I did like between the villages and the staff at the castle was right at the beginning, during the opening song, the baker says he's forgotten something, but can't remember what. I thought that was a really clever link and one that only clicked for me, right at the end reunion.
I had no idea that the villages used to be a part of the castle until the very end. Admittedly, I haven't watched the animated film for a long time but I swear it was more realistically timed. I can't for the life of me figure out how much time had passed. I could swear it must have been years since the curse was put on the castle but then all the villagers were the same age as the staff so it seemed to have barely been a year. Similarly, the fashion between the villagers (much simpler) and the castle (ostentatious) were from completely different time periods.

One genre which was clearly enthusiastically infused throughout was humour. The directors and writes clearly tried so hard to add there own take on the script. While retelling, despite the reimagining, the story remains vastly the same. It's a shot-for-shot remake almost and because it’s so devoted to the original, every time it falls oh so often short of it, it’s hard not to notice. To make it more unique they added some new characters, made the villagers more part of the focus and created this forced comedy show that no one in the audience laughed at. The only thing I thought was even remotely comedic was the fight between villagers and the piano when he was spitting out keys. I was not expecting him to have lost all his teeth on return to life as a human.

I didn't realise how much I had to say! There's so much more I could go on forever: evil Gaston and his gay best friend, the homeless woman (secrets!) and even how annoying Belle's dress was being tucked into waist band. Why?!
Having said that, I did think it was a really nice sentiment with her father's interactions. I loved the backstory to her mother and how it was introduced plus the mechanism in which it was brought about. I liked how the staff/furniture were introduced, the whispers and the kindness shown.

Overall, I left feeling very lack-lustre. I don't think the movie ever really want anyway. It remained on the same level of pace and never got to the climactic ending that my heart oh so desired. I left feeling confused and while I did feel a little magical inside, I didn't leave with the overwhelming urge to go again.