Disney started adapting their animated movies into live-action starting from 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland”. This was followed by “Maleficient”, “Cinderella”, and “The Jungle Book”. Many had split opinions of the movies, with some praising the remakes and others seeing it as a “money-grabbing” attempt. The latest movie in line is “Beauty and the Beast”, which started production in 2014 and will finally be in theatres this year.
But is it worth the watch? Will it ruin your childhood memories, or will it bring up the good times you had? We’ll break it down for you.
This fairy tale needs no introduction. We all know how it goes. To rescue her father Maurice from the hands of the fearsome Beast, Belle has to take his place as prisoner. Unbeknownst to her, he is actually a handsome, young prince under a curse, and the curse will only break when another person learns to love the Beast for who he is within.
With that out of the way, we have to say that there’s nothing groundbreaking in this adaptation. What we saw in the 1991 original is what we get in this remake.
Visually, it is extremely appealing – nothing less than what we expected from Disney. For a live-action movie, the narrative gets tedious at times, but the aesthetic helps retain its magic. From the charming small town where “Beauty and the Beast” is set to the mountains surrounding the area and the menacing castle the Beast is bounded to – everything is magical. It transports us to an alternative world and convinces us that we are part of it for 2 hours. It felt like we could touch the trees and pat the animated objects if we just stretched our hands. Trust us, watch this in IMAX 3D if you want the full experience.
Although the numbers have all been remade into modern versions, it is as equally captivating as the original. We experienced a festival on-screen and the music certainly complemented the movie. The “Be Our Guest” number and theme song certainly did not disappoint. We have a feeling that the songs will become hits among the audience, like how every single person on Earth hummed “Let It Go” (at least it felt that way to us). The cast looked eager belting out the track and we grew fond of them.
Emma Watson is a good actress, that much we can say. Maybe it’s her first time singing in a movie, maybe she felt pressured by the expectations, but she seemed a little too stoic. The opening scene sees her with an awkward smile on her face, as if she’s trying her best to convince the audience that she’s happy being where she is.
One of the most memorable scenes in the movie was when the living objects came together to charm Belle with a dinner performance. Sadly, Watson did not seem entirely convinced. Her expressions come across as unsure and her eyes faltered a little as she tries her best to persuade the audience that she’s impressed.
She performs the best when faced with a challenging situation. We see the fire in Belle when she has to save the Beast from the pitchfork-wielding villagers or when she stands her ground in rejecting Gaston’s multiple advances.
The actors were well casted, but the one who stood out was Gaston, portrayed by Luke Evans. He started off as an endearing character. Annoying, yes, but we learned to accept him as he is because his narcissism seemed adorable at times. We enjoyed seeing him rebuffing the advances of the young impressionable ladies while basking in the attention of the villagers. We liked how natural it was for Evans to look at a mirror and extol his own virtues – particularly his strength and looks.
That was until he did something unforgivable. At that moment, we hated him with every fibre of our body and all we hoped for was an equally torturous punishment. The character switched from “harmless airhead” to “dangerous villain” within moments. With every passing second, we can’t help but hope that he gets mauled by the Beast at the end of the movie.
Oh, and how could we not talk about the objects which came to life? All of them were equally memorable, be it the squabbling pair of Lumiere (Ewan Mc Gregor) and Cogsworth (Ian McKellen) or the mother-son pair of Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) and Chip (Nathan Mack). The objects have always served as one of the most lovable parts of the original and their charms were retained in this remake.
Much has been said about the gay character of LeFou – with some happy over the fact that there’s finally someone representing the community in a Disney movie; while others disappointed that the character is one which is often ridiculed. Our thoughts? Without spoiling the show, we would say that it was done just right.
Our final verdict? If you enjoyed the original, this will transport you back to your childhood. If you didn’t like the original, this adaptation won’t change your mind.
Yes, there are parts that made us scoff, like how miraculously Belle fell for the Beast, or how easily the villagers’ opinions were swayed. But do keep in mind that it’s a Disney movie, and it is a fairy tale, after all. Leave your cynicism outside the theatre for a moment and you will enjoy the movie.
“Beauty and the Beast” is set to be released in Malaysian cinemas on 30th March 2017.