As a Disney fan, this film has been highly anticipated, to say the least. The hype built exponentially since it was announced. I was very lucky to have a friend who so hugely impassioned by films and Disney that he kept me up to date without having to trawl through all of the media surrounding it. Personally, I cannot stand spoilers and hype. I have big issues with the film trailers of the past few years, but that is for another conversation.
At first, when it was announced that Disney was making a live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast my mind struggled to imagine how convincing the Beast would be. Even though CGI has progressed immensely, sometimes films don’t quite hit the mark. At this point, the film was still a year or two away and I decided that I would concern myself with that closer to the release, I wanted to be happy that one of my favourite films was being remade.
The second thing that came to mind was the casting. The actors from the original 1991 animation felt so right and had cemented themselves in my mind so firmly that I couldn’t imagine anyone else in those roles. Then I saw the casting announcements released bit by bit and the remake started to bloom in my imagination. I did my best to push it down, I didn’t want to hold my expectations so high that I would be disappointed regardless of the outcome. In my view, Emma Watson, though the obvious, was the right choice for Belle. She has been heavily criticised for her singing ability and her activities outside of role. Firstly, the latter shouldn’t be brought into it, and I will avoid going into a ‘Feminist Rant’ over it all. Secondly, Emma Watson can sing. It is true, that she does not match the talents of Paige O’Hara; However, I have to point out that part of the complaint is a result of us having someone to compare her to. I do think that if this film was an original and we did not have the animation as a comparison than the criticisms would be much less. Watson has a lovely voice, though I think that some of the editing and tuning may have been excessive. Overall the casting in the film is spot on. My personal favourite is the dynamic duo, Gaston and LeFou. Luke Evans and Josh Gad were the perfect choices.
Now, you can ask most of my friends, but I do love a good musical. I think that Alan Menken is a genius. There was very little issue with the musical numbers being transferred over the live action. Even the rather trippy Be Our Guest sequence was fantastic overall. My personal favourites were the two big ensemble pieces: Gaston and The Mob Song. I am an absolute sucker for a multi-part harmony. Also worth mentioning is the direction and choreography for Gaston it is rousing and pompous and fantastic – just like the man himself.
Overall, the film is very faithful to the original animation. There are conversations and scene sequences that are very nearly if not completely identical. The production team have done a miraculous job in that regard. Given that the film is approximately 45 minutes longer than the animation, there were, of course, added extras. To keep this spoiler free, I won’t go into any detail; however, most very good and slotted into the story easily even if they were not necessary. The song Evermore is a welcome addition and reminds me much of Les Misérables. In conclusion. The film is magical and you should go and see it. It is a film that makes people happy.