Emma Watson and Dan Stevens live action remake of the 1991 Disney’s cult animated movie Beauty and the Beast released today. Like many of the people who grew up watching the 1991 classic I was thrilled to know that a live action movie is in the works and left no time in going and watching the movie first-day-first-show. Emma Watson who is a personal favourite after she acted as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series was also one of the many reasons that I wanted to watch the movie. Movie veterans like Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson were another reason. So when I got an opportunity to watch the movie I grabbed it with both hands. After the hugely successful and powerful Jungle Book that released last year (which is also a personal favourite, since I grew up watching Mowgli and singing ‘jungle jungle pata chala hai’) I was expecting something on the similar lines and had lots of expectations from Beauty and the Beast after all it is my favourite fairy tale and the notion of a girl breaking stereotypes and being fearless and strong in the face of adversity and unknown always held me in awe. When every other fairytale makes the female protagonist a damsel in distress and is waiting for her knight in shining armour or the Prince charming, Belle was the one who goes out and saves her father as well as the Beast from impending doom. Her fearlessness, love and kindness are what epitomized a woman for me. She was kind, strong, intelligent and caring unlike the other fairytale heroines who were always grappling under problems and never taking any initiation of their own.
Emma Watson’s Belle is looking for a life away from her 18th century provincial French town where people look down upon her and call her strange because she reads and has a mind of her own. She is ridiculed for her ideas and her strong personality. She is rebuked for teaching another GIRL to read, apparently reading and writing is not on the top of the things in this town. Emma Watson tries her best to sing and act like the original animated version that was essayed by Paige O’Hara but she merely only ruffles the feathers. I will not go in details about giving you the story here because mostly everyone already knows it but what I will do is give you a rundown of hits and misses that the new Beauty and the Beast espouse. Beware, spoilers ahead! Emma Watson performs Belle in the brand new clip from Beauty and the Beast (Watch video)
1.Emma Watson looks beautiful as Belle
Emma Watson looks beautiful as the real life Belle and one could actually visualize her with her personality of a bookaholic and a feminist as Belle. Her homemade washing machine shows her enterprising nature.
Ian McKellen in his role as Cogsworth is truly amazing especially since his dialogue delivery makes you remember his fine wrinkled face and twinkling eyes.
Disney’s first character with gay undertones LeFou, definitely needs a mention here. He is shown as a companion of Gaston who harbours a soft corner for him and tries to dissuade him from his quest of marrying Belle. LeFou unlike Gaston has a conscience and tries to dissuade the latter from his evil plans. LeFou is jolted from his reverie of loving Gaston when the latter leaves him during the fight to seize the castle. Josh Gad as the sidekick LeFou steals the show and finds love in a fleeting split-second dance with an unnamed man who is called as one of the three illiterate musketeers and who grins happily when he is dressed in a woman’s clothes by the wardrobe.
There are some finer tweaks and details added to the story as subplots like the baker who says he can’t remember during the song ‘Belle’ is revealed as Mr. Potts the husband of the enchanted teapot Mrs. Potts and the father of the teacup Chip. The original version never gave any information about Belle’s mother but the new version shows what happened and how she lost her mother. It also gives us an inkling to why the Beast was such a brute even when he was a Prince before being cursed.
The enchantress who cursed Beast plays a minor but a pivotal role in the movie as she is shown as the spinster Agathe who rescues Maurice when he is left tied up by Gaston and lifts the curse when the Beast dies after the last petal falls. She brings his life back and lifts the curse from the castle and all of its inhabitants.
One of the best comic scene comes in the movie when the objects threaten Beast so that he makes an effort in pleasing and impressing Belle so that she can help in lifting the curse. Emma Thompson’s Mrs. Potts, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw have acted really well with their voice overs. Kevin Kline as Maurice Belle’s father did a swell job as well.
The movie is dark and too much shadow is used. It makes the animate objects look dreary. Unlike the original which was bright, sunny and colourful the new movie is too dark and gives the whole film a very somber look.
2.Ewan McGregor’s French accent
Ewan McGregor’s patchy French accent is unnerving. He has got the most dialogues among the animate objects but lacks charisma that was reminiscent of the old Lumiere from the 1991 animated version. You can’t help but remember the cartoon version of the objects as they were more endearing and funny.
3.Emma Watson’s acting as Belle
Emma Watson who rose to fame with the Harry Potter series playing the bibliophile and borderline genius Hermione Granger looks beautiful in the movie, but her vocal chops are no match to Paige O’Hara’s and her performance is eternally distant. There is not much difference in her performance when she is first introduced in the song ‘Belle’ or when she finds her father imprisoned or when she sees the Beast in the light. She should have been caught with wonder when she saw the animate objects all rallying around her or when she first sees the Beast or faces the wolves but her expressions and acting hardly evokes any emotions. Beauty and the Beast Final Trailer: Emma Watson enthralls as Belle (Watch video)
4.Dan Steven’s Beast
Dan Stevens’s Beast is not as endearing as Robby Benson’s Beast. He lacks the quality that showed through the animated version. The 1991 version could bring forth the emotion that there is a rage and torment in the Beast’s character but you could hear the prince beneath the fur which is lacking in this new live-action film. And somehow Dan Steven looks better in his Beast character than his human form.
5. 18th Century Makeup
The over garish makeup of the characters depicting their 18th century French characterization puts you off. They are a joke which is not funny at all.
6.’Be Our Guest’ Song
The song ‘Be Our Guest’ is filmed well but Ewan Mcgregor’s Lumiere lacks the charisma of the original version and the dark tone of the movie does not do justice to the happy and bracing song.
Watch trailer here:
However, the movie tries to bring a new age feel to the tale as old as time and tries to woo the newer, younger audience. The people who haven’t seen the original version might like it but give me the animated version any day. Go for the movie if you want to relive your childhood but don’t go with too many expectations.