“Beauty and The Beast” Revives Magical Memories

Avery Deen, Reporter

On Mar. 16, Disney dropped the latest installment in their live action remake series adding “Beauty and the Beast” to the ranks of “Cinderella” and “The Jungle Book.” The movie had its pros and cons, and overall won high box office positions on nostalgia and it’s amazing trailer which flaunted the realistic animation of the film. Tragically, while it had its high points “Beauty and the Beast” also had a few major flaws in my opinion, overall winning a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

As with all of the live action Disney remakes, there was still a great deal of animation in the film. How else can you depict people who have been turned into housewares? Overall, the animation was good, but it kind of felt like they used up their budget on a few major scenes and then realized later that they hadn’t left themselves enough- oops. While the wide shots of the castle exterior and the musical sequence for “Be Our Guest” were stunning, the rest of the film relied heavily on the fact that the audience would be so wrapped up in the story they wouldn’t notice how much they were missing. An example of this would be the library scene, a personal favorite of mine as someone who is admittedly over invested in books, here the Beast (played by Dan Stevens of “Downton Abbey”) presents to Belle (cast as Emma Watson, who famously played Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” films) the castle’s enormous and immensely impressive library. Only…it isn’t. The scene mostly focuses on Emma Watson standing in one area with like, two bookshelves behind her. And when the camera does go out for that first wide shot, it zooms through the room so quickly that you can’t even tell where the rows of books are. I found it very disappointing that they would take this lazy approach so that there was no animation of individual books and instead they could focus on the “oh so beautiful” details of other important scenes, like the dance scene right? That’s what started the amazement with the original, it must have been gorgeous! We saw leaked images of Emma Watson’s fabulous dress! Wrong. While the close shots of the actors dancing were nice, they once again seemed to think: “New room? WE NEED A WIDE SHOT. Oh no there are only five seconds of available time! Whatever, we’ll just go at supersonic speed!” Overall, there were so many moments in the movie where this was wildly distracting it almost felt as though I had whiplash after we got out.

However, like I lead with, the animation was absolutely stunning in some instances. For one thing, the characters. From the Beast to Frou Frou the footstool dog, it’s clear that a lot of thought went into how to make different things look human. The Beast himself was an interesting amalgamation, acting very humanlike and having far more human features than he had in the animated film, which made him much more likeable and far more relatable than I ever found him to be originally.

The other main complaint I had with the film was the casting of Emma Watson as Belle, I know blasphemy, right? Well while she has the looks for the part, Watson did not have the voice, among a cast with such strong vocal talent, she came across as weak. They ended up autotuning her to such an extent that it felt as though her voice wasn’t ever coming from her body. When the Beast’s singing voice sounds more realistic than Belles, I think you have a problem.

But like I said, part of this was because of the incredible juxtaposition between Watson and the rest of the cast. It was especially evident in the “Be Our Guest” number how fantastic the vocals of all of the other actors were. My personal favorite was Lumiere (voiced by Ewan McGregor), he was so alike the original character that it gave the movie a nice nostalgic feeling. Him and many of the other animated objects really brought life back into the film and redeemed it in my eyes. From the adorable Chip to grumpy Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), they were well portrayed through the animation and the voice acting and were arguably the most believable characters in the film.

Overall, there was a pretty even mixture of good and bad and I tried to award it for what it did well as opposed to detracting points for what it didn’t. It ended up with a 4 star score for its stunning visuals and character design and the vocals of all the characters, except for Belle.