Beauty and the Beast

Swell Enough

         
 

17 March 2017| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

It’s inviting me to feel the nostalgia for the 1991 animated classic, but am I supposed to enjoy this live action update just because I like nostalgia? Beauty and the Beast was already done so affectingly, hitting the beats with aplomb and supplying a vision with pristine perfection when it was animated. And the 1946 version is enveloping for its avante-garde atmosphere – it’s an entrancing relic. So why should I want an update, especially with such a prosaic vision of the beast’s castle? It’s the typical humongous but gloomy-grey castle we see all the time these days, yet thankfully the talking tea cups and vanity cabinet lighten things up. There are still a few too many flamboyant moments among its eclectic cast for my taste, and I too easily can complain of the camera being zoomed in a little too tight here and there. But there are some robust moments (the opening where we meet Belle reminded me of the musical “Oliver!”) and the acting, at least by two crucial performers, helps this swell-way-to-pass-the-time flick take off.

So I hardly need a new take on this story, and yet I think there are two easy on the eyes stand outs. Emma Watson gives an absolutely beautiful performance as Belle, the self-reliant girl who loves books, she gives me a fresh new look at ideological love. She’s perky but not too much so, she can lift up a music lyric but play so misty and heartfelt in most other moments even without a line. There is something radiant going on inside her, and that Disney-princess yellow gown brings out that radiance even more so. And Luke Evans, as the dastardly villain Gaston, is handsome yet egotistical but never overplays his hand. I’ve noticed Evans in quite a few movies and he’s always pitch-perfect with cavalier body language, and his line delivery is equally full of just enough smite without ever overselling it. He’s terrific in his arrogance.

Forgive me if I sound snooty by this comment, but it’s almost as if what I like here is not what everybody brings to “Beauty and the Beast,” but what “Beauty and the Beast” allows Watson and Evans to bring out of themselves.

As for the rest of it? It helps that the music remains good with minor orchestral fluctuations since I’m endeared by the 1991 tunes that are kept faithfully in my heart. I’m not sure if it’s worth commenting on the gayness of the Josh Gad character, Gaston’s ally, to me it is a non-issue. Elsewhere, I know it’s how the character is written, but it’s dispiriting to see Kevin Kline as a dopey, eccentric guy once again (as Belle’s father) since he’s an actor I’ve always been fond of but I now feel is slumming it as a fuddy-duddy these past ten to fifteen years. And Dan Stevens is just fine as the Beast (but please cut back to Emma Watson). Again for Watson, now that she’s played a Disney princess, while I’m sure she’s sublime as one because she believes in it, I’d still now love for her to play another kind of princess in another kind of mature film. I can’t wait for that.

“Beauty and the Beast” is extravagantly produced (I can say over-produced), and there are some divine moments here and there as I dig through it, and a couple of coarse moments aside, the time passed amicably.

129 Minutes. Rated PG.

FAMILY MOVIE / AGES 8 AND UP / WEEKEND FAMILY MOVIE

Film Cousins: “Beauty and the Beast (1946, France); “Beauty and the Beast” (1991); “Oliver!” (1968); “Cinderella” (2015).

Beauty and the Beast_2017 Review

Summary
Reviewer
Sean Chavel
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Beauty and the Beast
Author Rating
3
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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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