Beauty and the Beast (2017)
A more intimate companion to the animated classic, Beauty and the Beast finds it’s stride in the depth of it’s portrayal. We see the world in a closer light. The characters, though many of them inanimate objects, often times feel more real than their human counterparts. And that in itself, is surely magic.
The story begins as we’ve known it long before: A tale as old as time. And I began to realize while watching the film, that every character is simply looking for love.
I remember as a child being swept away by the music and the world, only now there’s a bit of nostalgia, a part of your childhood calling back to you.
Though Emma Watson doesn’t always take her Belle to a soul-touching level, she’s probably the best Belle that you’ll find on this here planet we call Earth, and you could say the same of Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Josh Gad, and many others. The casting is simply phenomenal.
Emma Watson is at her best when her guard is down, when she’s vulnerable, when she truly goes for it. We don’t always get to see that. She’s still a young actress, she doesn’t always reveal that side of herself to it’s fullest. But we do catch glimpses of it. We see moments of heartbreak when she’s next to the Beast as he lays dying. And we see it after being propositioned to, yet again by the irrefutable Gaston for her hand in marriage. Reprising the song “Belle”, all while appearing genuinely annoyed, frustrated, empowered, humored and ready to move on. It’s something that few can do so well, with such fervor, and part of the reason why audiences love her as much as they do. She has those moments of brilliance. Moments where she truly lets go of herself, where she truly goes for it, and it’s like lightning in a bottle. Temporary, but breathtaking.
The Beast, though played quite well throughout by Dan Stevens, had a few moments where the magic may have lost it’s luster. When he collapses after his fight with the wolves, when he smiles back sheepishly after slurping soup at dinner, there were moments that felt slightly over the top. I think the CGI at times lacked the subtlety that practical effects would have had when it comes to performance, though most of the time the CGI was both realistic and fantastic.
And though Stevens should be lauded for what he brought to the role, once the spell was lifted, there were moments where the Prince completely lacked the presence that the Beast once held. The weight of his character, seemingly gone. At times, I couldn’t help but wonder what heights the film could have been brought to by someone like Benedict Cumberbatch or Ryan Gosling, who perhaps could have found more depth, or darkness in the Beast.
But considering the circumstances, the expectations of grandeur, and the immense challenge in re-capturing the audience and the world’s imagination, Beauty and the Beast is, in classic fashion, as true as it could be.
Review Score: B+
Feels Like: Beauty and the Beast (1991), Harry Potter, Cinderella.
Standout Performance: Ewan McGregor & Josh Gad. Lumiere is a marvel in this film, and McGregor, a chameleon in his portrayal. And to play Le Fou, there is no finer actor in the world than Josh Gad.
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