Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

My ratingIMDbRotten Tomatoes
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9/1065/1006.1/1072%Unavailable.
Numbers obtained from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes on March 14, 2017.

As the song goes: “Ever just the same/ Ever a surprise”. That’s exactly what this new version of Beauty and the Beast brings to audiences. The elements of the animation are there and several new ones were added, which makes the viewers feel as if they are watching a new story.

With a running time of 45 minutes longer than the 1991’s animation, Beauty and the Beast explores the protagonists’ past as well as adds new characters and 3 new songs, composed by Alan Menken (also responsible for the animation’s score) and Tim Rice.

The animation is one of my favorite movies to date and the news of a live-action made me anxious. It was, therefore, a relief to see that there was no reason for concern.

One triumph of this version, in my opinion, was to clarify a bit more the beginning of the story. Some things have always bothered me in the animation: how does the town not know about the castle? How would the spell last until the prince turns 21 if in the song “Be Our Guest” they say that they have been serving for 10 years? So was the prince 11, then? Gladly, the film clarifies all these questions!

In this film, Belle (Emma Watson) remains the “strange girl” of the village, but she is an inventor, just like her father, and also teaches girls to read. This, by itself, already shows that Disney wanted its protagonist to be stronger and more independent than before. Her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) is not the “crazy old Maurice” and still suffers from the loss of Belle’s mother. Unlike the animation, however, he does not become a prisoner of the Beast by taking advantage of the hospitality of the castle, but by stealing a flower from the garden.

The Beast (Dan Stevens) gets his own song (beautiful, by the way) and the castle objects also have their moment to talk on their lives and the reason the prince is arrogant and selfish, as we saw at the beginning of the film.

Perhaps the best character interaction in the movie is between Gaston (Luke Evans) and LeFou (Josh Gad). The relationship of the two is best explored here and the actors are simply perfect in the roles. Gaston manages to be a worse person here than in original version, with the most cruel acts and intentions. LeFou, however, is a little changed in the film, which only benefits the story.

The special effects are great and convey to the audience the feeling that, in fact, the castle is magical. Director Bill Condon told in interviews how difficult the process of deciding how the castle objects would be shown in this live-action (many people complained about the appearance of Mrs. Potts, for example). It should be borne in mind that with animation the creative freedom to put faces into objects is much greater than in live-action!

Equally difficult is the making of the Beast, fully computerized. Dan Stevens also recounted in recent interviews that he had to shoot all the scenes twice: the first time with the “clothes” of the Beast and the second time with the cameras attached to his face to capture the facial movements.

The best part of the film, however, remains the soundtrack. The original songs are there, but several verses have changed. According to Alan Menken, some of them were in the first version of the animation, but were discarded later. One more reason to like this movie: we have the opportunity to see the original lyrics (especially some phrases said by LeFou in “The Mob Song”!).

In addition, the score remains as strong as before – the opening theme and score of the Beast transforming into prince at the end of the movie are capable of bringing feelings and memories to anyone who has seen animation as a child.

Beauty and the Beast is a film so rich in details, both in the visual aspects and in the screenplay, that it would be impossible to approach everything in a review. Reducing it to a simple “remake” would be an injustice and would detract from the important role that story has, especially nowadays when judging others by appearances and social positions has come back to fashion.

It is, therefore, a film different from the original, which does not ruin it at any moment. To those who are afraid to watch this movie because they think that it will not live up to the animation: do not fear! Enjoy this latest version and remember that the animation is still there, intact and (almost) perfect!

Carolina

Brazilian lawyer that has more passion for movies, theater and music than for the law.

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