Reel Geek Review:Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The original animated Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was and is a cherished movie for all kids, especially those who grew up since its release in 1991. When they first announced that they were doing a live action remake of the film, some, including myself were skeptical. Even though other live action remakes of Disney animated classics were decent if not great, there’s no way that they could ever recapture that magic again. Or so we thought..

Director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) and writers Stephen Chbosky (Perks of Being A Wallflower) and Evan Spiliotopoulos (Hercules) take on the epic challenge of redoing a beloved classic movie into a new medium.  

I don’t think I need to do a plot recap for this one, so let’s just get into it.  

The movie, I thought, was a better overall remake than The Jungle Book, which I also loved, but this movie felt more like seeing the movie I loved, but with a bit more story filled in overall than could be done in the older version.  

Little things such as, why the prince was a jerk to begin with, and why Belle doesn’t have a mother come to mind, and why the castle servants got enchanted along with the prince were great additions come to mind, and a few new songs added to the score book as well, all felt like they belonged and nothing felt shoehorned in. 

The cast did extremely well, and I loved the diversity in the cast as well. Standout performances from Dan Stevens (Legion, Downton Abbey) as The Beast, Emma Watson as Belle. Their chemistry felt well, and they both could sing well, which I wouldn’t have expected from either of them going into this.  As well as great performances from the supporting cast such as Ian Mckellan as Cogsworth, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, and Ewan McGregor as Lumiere,  they all were spectacular in this movie.

I also must address the “controversy ” of this film, of making Josh Gad’s (Frozen, Pixels) LeFou, gay. I rather enjoyed his performance in the movie, and it was handled tastefully, it’s not like he was doing things that would not be out of place in a kid’s movie, but it added a bit to the character, who already seemed that way a bit in the original film to be honest, and his story arc I thought was done rather well. 

Also, if you’re a fan of costuming and set design, you’re in for a real treat, as the level of detail put into this world is quite brilliant. The set design by Sarah Greenwood (Sherlock Holmes, Atonement) was phenomenal, just little details put into everything, the village, the castle especially, just breathtaking to see. And the costumes by Jacqueline Durran (Atonement) felt authentic as well, the classic outfits done onscreen and newer ones that never felt out of place either.  

I loved the visual effects of the film as well for the most part, save for some of the animated servants in this version were borderline nightmare fuel. And other changes to the style of how the animated characters looked such as turning the maid, Plumette (Gugu Mbatha Raw- Concussion, Doctor Who) whom in the original just looked like an anthropomorphic feather duster into a peacock feather duster were a bit odd, and kind of took me aback at first, and took me out of the movie for a bit, really. 

Overall though, in the end Beauty and the Beast was a delicious treat of a movie, a visual delight, and is really fun for the whole family. This may also, visual effects issues aside, be the best live action remake yet of the Disney canon.   I was half hoping the enchantress would have been played by Helena Bonham Carter, as it could have tied this film into the live action Cinderella from a couple of years ago, creating a Disney Fairytale Cinematic Universe , but I suppose not everything needs to be connected.  

Definitely go out and see this movie on the big screen, in 3-D would be the best, to really get all the details in. This is one story I’d be happy to be their guest in time and again. 

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