Sunday, March 19, 2017

10 thoughts on...Beauty and the Beast

1. Rebooted Disney

It works. The films remain joyously entertaining, the stories are adapted to address the concerns of audiences today (Cinderella's refocus to 'have courage and be kind' is a particularly strong example of this) and audiences flock to them. Should we complain? Well of course those who have a deep connection with the original animated films will be anxious about this trend, but so far I think we can rest assured - the animated and live action versions both have a place in the Disney canon. But the animated versions are infinitely better.

2. Emma Watson

There's something about Emma Watson's persona that makes me want to celebrate her, and thankfully she gives a charismatic performance to make her feisty actions believable. She is determined. Sadly her voice is weak, and I wish they had dubbed her (and she would be in good film musical  with Audrey Hepburn and Deborah Kerr).

3. The music we know

Is glorious. The inclusion of an instrumental 'Home' (from the stage version) was also a lovely surprise. 

4. The new music

There's the good (the new one reflecting Belle's past) and the bad (the Beast's new solo number). Bad because it adds little to the story and slows down the pace. Thankfully the energy of the song to follow, 'The Mob Song', makes you instantly forget.

5. The design 

The design of the original animated film is iconic - the costumes, the exterior castle, the west wing, the ornaments...and it's impossible to watch this version without remembering them. However, Jacqueline Durran does a good job of being inspired by the past but doing something new. I particularly liked the rejig of the town. 

6. Belle's backstory

I won't go into too much detail but I thought this added layer was well orchestrated, and gave the story another great moment to highlight the theme of displacement and family in a different way to the rest of the film. 

7. Luke Evans

Is perfect as Gaston. Best Supporting Actor nomination please.

8. The transformation

Why do we see so little of this? It feels like a strange decision to focus on the supporting characters in the castle equally when what the story is focused on is the relationship with Belle and the Beast.

9. The supporting characters in the castle

It will always be a joy to see a group of celebrated actors performing in a fun, brash musical. Especially when they're giving 110% like Audra MacDonald (my personal favourite). There may issues with accents (Audra, Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson) but you can tell they're enjoying it, so just give in.

10. Movie musicals

With La La Land (hopefully) paving the way for original film musicals and Beauty and the Beast proving further audiences aren't averse to them, hopefully we won't be waiting too long for producers committing to a handful more soon. 

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