Months before the release of this movie, there was a beautiful fifteen second teaser that played the Beauty & the Beast theme, and the newly caste Belle, studying the iconic magical rose. That one tiny scene alone gave me chills and had me super pumped for this live action rendition of what could easily be Disney’s most prized amongst all it’s jewels.
Disney seems to have churned its factory into one that picks up some of it’s animated classics, and throws in a bunch of A-listers celebs(I mean, you literally have Ian Mckellen and Ewan McGregor playing inanimate objects) along with their prime CGI team to pay homage to the former. You can already hear their banks go CHA-CHING, even before the production has even begun. But as a casual movie goer, these ulterior intentions have no effect on me.
This live action ode to the emblematic Beauty and The Beast starts of with blowing your mind in the very first 20 minutes alone. Not only does this movie already start addressing the many loopholes that were called out with regard to the original animation (like how no one in the village knew of the prince and a whole castle. And why it always snowed only there), but also this movie did a beautiful frame by frame reproduction of Belle’s introduction in the gleeful village she belongs to. The iconic songs intwined with the colour outburst of the province were all hitting the mark as satisfyingly as they could have gotten.
Emma Watson, to me, is the prefect cast of the coincidentally progressive and strong Belle. Being the flag-bearer of feminism on a global scale, Watson’s being beautiful was just a secondary trait to how her role was wonderfully pleasing to the eyes. This movie had it all, when it comes to using this platform of a classical Disney flick to propagate and address social agendas that are in dire need of such addressing.
From feminism to literacy to homosexuality, this is Disney simply making it’s loudest political intent as yet. And even rightly so. Despite how much I love Emma Watson, and keeping in mind her contented performance, for me the pinnacle of this cast was Luke Evans. Gaston is such an important anti-hero in the entire Disney universe, and initially I had my doubts of how Evans could look the part at all. But this man is able to draw parallels from the original character, at same time not necessarily reminding us of him.
Bill Condon and the writers also go as far as trying to ground the original story by not only fixing loopholes but by drawing out backstories for our lead characters. For once we had the chance of trying to be able to empathise with why our lead characters are the way they are.
But amidst all this social reforms agenda, backstory establishment, conscious scene-by-scene recreation and loophole fixing, Condon has fallen short in more than a few areas that holds this movie from being perfection. There are moments that he tries to bring in a touch of comedy (having Josh Gad in his cast and all), but those moments fail at being funny and entail to being… cute, at it’s best. I could have expected a deviation on the original plot, to give us a fresher perspective on this newly breathed life( like in Jungle Book), but somehow I’m glad they tried to stay as cannon as possible. But the ghastliest case that Condon has erred, is that somewhere in getting everything else right, the core romance between the beauty and her beast is hard to find. The story is still there, but the chemistry is not. On some level, I probably have a lot to blame Dan Stevens for, because the beast might have been our always favourite big bad wolf (buffalo?), but the prince was a bit underwhelming.
But yeah, this movie easily easily does more right than wrong, and if it doesn’t take you on a trip down nostalgia lane, it’ll at least remind you to go and re-watch the original for the same. Which in hindsight is still a good thing.
Then again, this indeed is a tale as old as time.
Anuj is a musician and writer who moonlights as an engineer. Being a massive movie/TV show enthusiast, if only he could get could paid for watching anything and everything. This Hogwarts alumnus is one with the Force, and the Force is one with him.