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Monday, June 12, 2017

So I Watched a Movie...

So this weekend I finally watched the live action version of Beauty and the Beast and I have to say I liked it but I don't understand why everyone on my Facebook feed was tripping all over themselves with such high praise for the movie.

Did we watch the same movie? Because I liked most of it but there were some glaring flaws that almost no one seemed to point out. Let's start with those:

What Went Wrong
1. Emma Watson's Musical Numbers.
I love Emma Watson, I really do. She was the perfect choice to play Belle BUT she fell short during her musical numbers. Why do I say that? Well when you watch great musical numbers the actor in the scene is not only singing but telling a story with their body. Hand gestures, posture, feet movements, all that combined with the singing and facial expressions need to all be present in order to make the scene believable. Watson didn't do anything like that. Take the Belle (Reprise) scene for example, she's running up to the hill and declares "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell..." And yet Emma just stands there woodenly with no real body language to convey her desperation to escape small town life. Compare it to the animated version where Belle throws her arms out and spins around, letting us all know she really wants that adventure in her life. I think Emma Watson could have benefited from some musical theater classes/camp so that she could have gotten those gestures and movements down pat because when you compare her numbers to those of Josh Gad and Luke Evans who DO have that musical theater background, you can really see the difference.

2. Emma Thompson's version of Mrs. Potts.
Maybe I'm the only one but I just got irritated with the way she voiced the beloved tea pot. Maybe it was the accent or the pitch, all I know is that she drove me nuts and I definitely didn't enjoy her rendition of the song Beauty and the Beast.

3. Scene Transition Whiplash.
Some of the transitions from regular scene to musical number was abrubt, no lead in, nothing just kind of "Ta Da!" Case in point, the Something There scene. There's no lead in to the scene, the music just starts, no intro, nada. I really tried not to compare it to the animated version since I wanted to be fair but it's difficult not to with this scene because there was a quick music intro and smooth segue way into the song.

4. The Ballroom Scene Lacked Romance.
I get the desire to go for a bit more historical accuracy with this film, and the dance between Beast and Belle had to have that authenticity with the way people danced back then BUT it took away from the intimacy of scene. The Beast holding Belle in his arms for most of the dance was what made us begin to see that they were falling in love.

5. The Lumiere and Cogsworth Bromance: Where did it go?
I don’t know about you guys but I loved the antagonistic bromance that Lumiere and Cogsworth had. That was glaringly absent in the film version. Instead Lumiere was all about Plumette which okay he chased her around in the animated film but if an animated film that was much shorter, had time to include some key moments between the candelabra and clock, why couldn’t the live action movie do it too?

Okay looking at those five points it kind of sounds like I didn’t like the movie but I did just not to the degree a majority of people did. So here’s what did work for me about Beauty and the Beast.

What Went Right
1. The Cast.
Despite what I saw as problematic about Emma Watson’s musical numbers, I loved her as Belle. No one else could have played that role because to me she embodies the spirit of every young woman who has wanted more out of life. Dan Stevens did an amazing job as Beast, his voice was spot on (I was actually very worried about that one). Major props to Josh Gad and Luke Evans as well, I LOVED the scenes with them.

2. The Score.
The fact that they were able to get the original composer again and kept the score basically the same was a huge win for me. Who doesn’t remember the opening bars to the Prologue? I was a huge fan of the animated film’s score and even with the changes to the live action film’s score, it still kept the main sound.

3. The New Songs.
The handful of new songs fit in so well with the narrative of the story it felt like they had been there all along! I was thrilled that there was a song for Beast to sing and to be honest; it’s one of my favorites on the entire soundtrack. Both versions.

4. The glimpses into Belle’s past.
I always wondered what happened to Belle’s mother, why it was just her and Maurice so having that scene where we’re all able to see what happened to her mother was heartbreaking but also added to Belle’s character.

5. Belle’s an inventor herself.
I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal but I always wondered when I saw the animated film: Belle is so different and Maurice is definitely different, why wouldn’t she be an inventor like him? Well she was definitely her father’s daughter in the live action version and I was happy to see a that trait in her.

Overall I’d give the live action version of Beauty and the Beast a B+. It wasn’t the awe inspiring smash that people were making out to be but it wasn’t a flop like some critics were saying. There were some real gems in the movie, and I do love musicals. My favorite number has to be Gaston. It was fun, it was entertaining, and way better than the animated version of that number.

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