BEAUTY AND THE BEAST REVIEW

April 5, 2017

Taylor Carre-Riddell

Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a young, well-read French maiden who manages to thaw the heart of a selfish Prince.

The Classic ‘Tale as Old as Time’ Song
For all the new songs that infuse unnecessary cheesiness in the narrative, this song redeems the flashy, confused aural soundscape of the film. The purity of Thompson’s voice is harnessed and the timeless lyrics and bringing them to life.

But you don’t hear the song by Ariana Grande/John Legend at all, just in the credits! Though, you can listen to it here.  Like in the original film, Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) sings the song in the iconic ballroom dance scene.

 

Animation/ CGI
The animation of the settings and ‘furniture cast’ was clean cut and glistening, the movement seamless and lifelike. However, at times, there was just too much of it! In the iconic Be Our Guest scene, the flashing colour and hasty camera cuts distract from the lavish display of Lumiere’s character. Too much visual stimulation at times compromised the intricate score; such as the final battle scene: the 3D like effects of the crumbling castle meant we didn’t get to focus on Belle’s determined, furious gaze or the livid face of Gaston or the anguished expression of Beast as he has at last something to fight for.

Costume/Prop/Settings

The costumes and props were era specific, if a little too saturated with the colours and cursive shapes that scream 17th-18th Century provincial France. In the saturated kaleidoscope of rich colour, significant magical objects like the Beast’s Mirror or The Cursed Rose were nothing more than plot devices as their detailed design was lost, with the bouncy camera work only allowing for a glimpse of these objects only when necessary story-wise.

Belle’s dress was the beacon of gold light, literally, when it came to showing that less is more. You could almost feel the air move around you as the faint yellow, chiffon-like material bounced with the maiden’s movement.  The live action form also allowed for elements on the dress to be celebrated that are absent in the animation: the workings of glinting gold woven into the skirt, the playing of shadows on the trimmings, and the jewellery! And the camera lingers long enough in an indulgent dress scene for us to take it all in, thank goodness!


Score/Music

Can Emma Watson sing? Perhaps not to the same heights as the original Belle, Paige O’Hara can, but it seems years of actor-vocal training has served Emma well. She can hold a tune, with a little help.  Dan Stevens is very much in the same boat, but at the end of the day, these actors are very good at doing their day job. The casting choices of virtually every character ensured that the visual grandeur of the film was met with equal flare in the portrayal of emotion, conflict, subtle comedy, and yes, fairy tale romance.

Luke Evans (Gaston) and Josh Gad (LeFou) are the real vocal ringbearers hear, with their strong vocals suggesting musical training that help gel together the slightly overstuffed orchestra from becoming overbearing.

The composition score itself, in my opinion, was the saving grace of the film- the raw, enduring connection to its predecessor.  Intricate, well timed and matching to the emotion in the scene, this is what affirmed that this film does, undoubtedly, have the nostalgic, illusive ‘Disney Renaissance’ charm of the animation.

Overall, I would see this film for a modern, Disney-like experience, but not necessarily for a nostalgic Disney experience. Where the original animation thrived in doing justice to its form, the live action suffers, but the endearment and enchantment is there, and that is what urges me to meet with Belle and hear her story again.

Rating 3/5

-Taylor Carre-Riddell

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