Section: ArtsMarch 31, 2017
It’s a tale as old as time with songs as old as rhyme, and it is officially taking over the box office. Since its release on March 17, the live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” has become the most popular movie in the world, grossing over $720 million. It is one of many classic Disney movies that has received the live-action treatment in the past few years, such as “Cinderella” and “The Jungle Book.”
The general plot is similar: A selfish prince (Dan Stevens) is cursed by an enchantress and turned into a beast, while his servants become furniture. He must fall in love before the last petal of a magic rose falls. Belle (Emma Watson), a beautiful bibliophile in a nearby town, finds herself stuck in his castle after she exchanges her freedom for her father’s. Over time, Belle and the Beast fall in love and eventually break the spell, living happily ever after.
Despite the film’s similarities to its predecessor, there are a few things that have been tweaked this time around. The creators fixed plot holes from the original film. For years, fans have wondered how old the Beast was when the enchantress cursed him. It says that the rose will wilt when he is twenty-one, but in “Be Our Guest” Lumière says, “Ten years we’ve been rusting,” leading fans to speculating that the Beast was cursed when he was 10 years old, which is problematic. In the new movie, we see that the prince is an adult when he is cursed and are told that time was frozen while the spell was active. Another plot point that threw people off in the original movie was the timeline. In the beginning of the film, it looks like fall but during most of the film, it looks like winter. People thought that the story took place over the course of several months. In the new film, the Enchantress has cursed the Beast’s castle with an eternal winter, but it is June outside of the castle.
With a 71-percent overall rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie is far from a disappointment.
The casting choices were spot on. My favorites were Luke Evans as Gaston and Stevens as the Beast. One of my problems with the original was that Gaston was not evil enough for a villain: He was just obsessed with a girl who did not like him. This is far less malicious than someone like Jafar from “Aladdin” or Scar from “The Lion King,” who will stop at nothing to gain power.
In this film, Gaston’s actions were far more manipulative and harsh. However, Evans still brought charisma to the role: The song “Gaston” was one of the most entertaining sequences in the movie. Plus, Steven’s version of the Beast was far wittier and more relatable. As compared to the animated film, this Beast was well-read and the reason he treated people poorly was because his mother died when he was little, and his cruel father raised him.
The Beast, as well as other characters, received new songs. He sings a bittersweet song called “Evermore” when he frees Belle. This song made me pity the Beast and makes him more relatable because he was lamenting about losing someone he loved. Although some of the music blew me away, songs like “Belle” and “Something There” contained so much autotune that it took me out of the movie and made me question the choices of the editors.
Another problem with the film was the believability of Belle and the Beast’s romance. Watson’s version of Belle is inventive and independent; her father describes her as “ahead of her time.” While Belle was independent in the original, Watson’s Belle takes it to a whole new level. When she decides to take her father’s place, she does not even give him a chance to protest: She shoves him out of the prison and locks herself in. In the original, Belle told the Beast to take her instead, and the Beast made the decision.
Also, in this new version, Belle tries to escape the moment she is imprisoned. In the original, Belle did not leave until the Beast yelled at her and told her to go. The romance felt less believable because someone as independent as Belle would not fall in the love with the Beast as quickly as she did, even if he did become a better person. Watson’s Belle felt more like a modern-day Disney princess, without a love interest, like Moana or Merida. Even during the epic ballroom scene, Belle tells the Beast that she could never fall in love with someone who imprisoned her. After he lets her go, hours later, as he dies, she tells him she loves him.
Despite its few flaws, “Beauty and the Beast” will put a smile on anyone’s face. If you like a well-crafted, colorful film with likable characters, this movie is for you.