With the success of Les Miserables at the box office, movie adaptations of musicals and animated musicals have made it to the big screen every year. This year we see the release of the much anticipated, often debated live-action version of Beauty and the Beast based on the 1991 animated feature.
Luke Evans was a great Gaston, annoying and obnoxious as his character should be. Lefou played by Josh Gad felt like he was, at the same time trying to be and NOT to be the animated Lefou as his character developed. The supporting cast (and the CG characters that they portray) did a fine job of bringing the story to life. The dynamic between the candelabra Lumierre (Ewan McGregor) and clock Cogsworth (Ian Mckellen) was funny and entertaining. Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) was so expertly delivered that I had to make sure that they didn’t grab a time machine and produce a younger sounding Angela Lansbury. I wanted to like Emma Watson as Belle who was originally played by Paige O’Hara– but the phrasing of her songs and the way that her singing sounded too auto-tuned to me just prevented that from happening.
The 2 things that I distinctly remember making the news from the original were the ballroom scene which was a revolutionary tech demo for incorporating 3D modeling and 2D animation, and the fabulous music of Alan Menken who won oscars for the score. Suffice it to say I had very high expectations coming into the movie.
I thought that the new version was OK. I was not blown away like other people I’ve spoken to were. When I watch a movie, especially a movie which has no recourse but to go with a ton of CG, I expect the CG to be seemless- meaning I do not want the computer graphics to stick out so much that I am left distracted by it. Sadly this is what happened to me, I got too caught up in trying to look at the dazzle of CG that I felt the movie lost the heart of the original. And although the movie retained the sound track from the original, the additional songs were laborious at best and to me did not really do much other than extend the time of the movie.
Maybe it’s the old school charm, the warmth that animated films bring or maybe it’s just the better delivery of the music that made the 1991 classic a classic. And although the new version will absolutely create new fans and all the movie magic with its full CG Beast might appeal to the younger viewers, the movie overindulges in opulence and bling (so much ornate detail!) and lacks in soul and the ability to bring out, at least from our perspective, the joy of Disney magic.
I went to see the movie with relatively low expectations. I really enjoyed the original, in fact it may be my favourite animated movie with the exception of The Lion King. However, after the trailers, I really didn’t like the animation for the Beast. So I was going in to be kind of disappointed. I still found the animation for the Beast a little bit off putting, but the performance of the supporting cast really brought up my opinion of the movie.
First off, as Mike mentioned, Gaston was almost flawless in how he was portrayed. Luke Evans did a really an absolutely wonderful job of make a character the comic relief and then the villain. From all the pieces of furniture around the castle to the wonderful hairbrush scene, a lot of the movie really hit the nail on the proverbial head. I didn’t take too much notice of Emma Watson’s singing, I did feel like she was almost too nice however. She lacked a bit of gritty fight which the original had.
I did leave the cinema feeling a lot more upbeat and positive about the movie. It definitely exceeded my expectations. I would prefer to see Disney branching out into new movies however, and leave the classics as classics. But that won’t happen anytime soon!