Beauty and the Beast (Movie Review)

This is the first movie review that will be on my blog, but I guarantee it won’t be the last. I watch so. many. movies. Going to a theatre and retreating into the endless rows of seats and looking up at a huge screen, it calms me. Sometimes it’s the only thing that does. Of all the movies I’ve seen recently, Beauty and the Beast takes the cake! I’ve seen it twice in theatres, including the sing along version, and downloaded the soundtrack for regular replay. I still plan on seeing it a third time before it leaves the big screen.

If you haven’t clued in, I was absolutely delighted with this movie. I’m not even sure where to start. The songs were on point, including the new ones made specifically for the new movie. The costuming was elegant and theatrical. The CASTING! Oh, the casting was perfection. Don’t get me started (yet) on the visual effects and animation. Just wow.

Let’s start with the music, since this is, after all, a musical. A number of the original songs were composed for a new generation and some of the lyrics changed to fit our modern day and cast. My favorite example was Gaston. The new and, in my opinion, improved song is a bit more cheeky, and bit more back-handed, and bit more awesome! They kept the classic line about expectorating and five dozen eggs, but change the cleft chin comment and the like. The new version also highlights the peculiar and complicated relationship between Gaston and Lefou a bit more. Which I love.

Belle, the song, was given a pump up, made more theatrical if possible. The-hills-are-alive-esque ending made goosebumps prickle up on my arms. The entire ensemble brought a modern day aspect to the song. The way the lines ‘how is your family? how is your wife?’ were portrayed in the movie stood out to me as a snarky little nod to how our minds think now versus 1991.

Now, my FAVORITE song of the whole bunch is a new one, written and composed for this new movie, and sung with the purest tone and clearest voice. Evermore is the song I put on repeat and bask in for…evermore.

I had to. I’m not sorry.

I showed the song to one of my students and she said, “but it’s sad.” I said, “yeah, it is, but that’s because he loves her”, and her face lit up with realization. She loves love, and this song speaks to all the hopeless romantics in the world. Including me. This song was the perfect addition to showcase how human the Beast really is.

They got current artists to sing on the new album that so accurately represent the people listening to it. Ariana Grande, John Legend, Josh Groban, and Celine Dion is back. Altogether, the perfect sound for a perfect movie.

While they’re singing, they’re dancing, and fighting, and farming, and they look great doing it. Jacqueline Durran outfitted the characters in these stunning dresses and suits. Belle’s farm girl costume was updated for the modern version, a girl who is more of a woman now. She is brave and strong like the old Belle, but born in a time that is not nearly as naive.

Her blue dress actually looks like something a farm girl would wear while still holding true to Belle’s classic blue and white ensemble. It’s constructed like the dress actually would’ve been, tied and wrapped in the most uniquely Belle way. My favorite part is that, for the more active parts of the movie, she ties up the skirt. It makes her so much more real that she knows how to use the dress, how to adapt it, to her life.

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The Beast’s – no wait, not just his but everyone’s costumes in the beginning scene at the prince’s ball – were breath-taking. The opulence built the scene from the moment the movie began.  Everyone is in a monochrome of creams, lavishly accented in gold, as if they’d bathed in champagne. It’s a far cry from the first time we see Belle, but that is the point I suspect. The Prince is decked out in royal blue and gold, an outfit I imagine took quite a lot of time and effort to make. His powered wig is a spectacle, and his face is literally painted. It’s boisterous and pompous and delightful.

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The costume we all really care about. Belle’s dress. This glorious yellow number that is the Disney princess’ signature. In the new movie, Garderobe does this little thing with her golden “arms” and magically rains gold down on Belle’s stunning yellow dress. It’s like a delicate embroidered filigree that gave the number a discreetly luxurious quality. Everything from the, very handy, gold leaves in her hair to the stacked layers of puffed up skirt, Belle’s look is simply enchanted.

Cogsworth, Lumiere, Plumette, Mrs. Potts, Chip, Garderobe, Cadenza. The lovable friends that make Belle at home and the Beast a kind man in his darker times. Household objects that come alive within the walls of the Beast’s castle. They are the comic relief within those walls, and they are the symbolic heart of the home. They were brought to life with exceptional quality by talented hands.

Their personalities are just as strong as the detail in their gears and metalwork. The amazing visual and special effects departments should get a raise, whatever they’re paid, they deserve more. Even if those pieces were just regular household items, they’d still be magnificent. It’s so cute how they have little faces and arms and mouths. They even somehow look like the actors that play them. It’s incredible.

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This is the one I’ve been waiting to talk about! The blessed casting! Oh my good Lord, the cast for this movie is a collection of the most exuberant, talented, attractive people in Hollywood. Emma Watson is likable, beautiful, and bright. The perfect Belle. Her voice was sweet and simple, her looks elegant and natural.

Guys. The Beast. The. Beast. Mr. Dan Stevens. I can’t- I just love him so much. I loved him in Downton, I love him in this. From the moment the movie showed just a shot of his eyes in full makeup I knew, I knew it was him and I squealed for the next two hours (and weeks since then). Still, when I listen to Evermore I just eek! His voice is powerful, yet soft, alluring and frightening. I knew he could carry a tune, but I had no idea he could SING.

Those eyes. The eyes of the beast. Those eyes that translate through the transformation from human to beast and back. You could see Dan in the eyes of the beast and it made me want to wrap my arms around him forever. Even Belle needed those eyes to recognize him, hands trailing over his face when he changed back into the Prince. The moment he stands up, in only his white shirt and disarray of thick blond hair, he looks so much like the Prince in the 1991 version. It kills me.

Phew. Okay, I’m done fangirling.

Luke Evans is my sister’s favorite person in the cast. The whole movie she just kept saying, “ugh, he’s so pretty.” I thought he was a fantastic Gaston. Someone that I loved to hate, and yet couldn’t stand to dislike afterwards. The song isn’t wrong, he’s quite an intimidating specimen.

My other love, Ewan McGregor, was a sparkling light as Lumiere. He was sort of like the ring leader for all of the household items. He was funny and bullheaded. Now, I knew Ewan could sing, and I knew he was theatrical. I expect great things from him, and he did not disappoint. He made the house warm and inviting.

The great Sir Ian McKellen was the grumpy, no-nonsense Cogsworth. We all know Ian can do no wrong, and this is no different. The casting choice of Ian McKellen was ideal. He was the Sonny to Ewan’s Cher, the Bonnie to his Clyde. They worked in perfect harmony. All free spirits need an anchor.

Emma Thompson. The classic, effervescent Emma Thompson. The mother figure of the castle and the only mother in the castle. Her and her little Chip add such an aww element to the film. When she talks I just see blooming flowers and chirping birds. Chip is just a little bundle of joy; he holds the optimistic attitude of the original cartoon.

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Just look at them 🙂

This movie makes my heart so happy. Go see it if you haven’t already, if you have, go again, and then we can gab about the perfection that is this film.

xoxoxo

Pende

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