This blog post comes a day late but with good reason; I was at the theatre yesterday watching the new Beauty and the Beast film and I loved it so much, I just knew I had to spend today writing a review of it.
Because the film is still in theatres, I’m going to make sure this review is spoiler-free. It will touch on some broad themes but no specific scenes will be discussed and I will not go into detail about any story arcs mentioned, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, have no fear of continuing on. I won’t spoil the magic for you.
Let me just start by saying that when I walked out of the theatre, I went out of my way to try and think of something to critique just to try and eliminate some of my own bias towards the film. I’m a huge Disney fan and a huge Beauty and the Beast fan so it stands to reason that I would likely be looking at the film through rose-coloured goggles. I tried. I really, truly did. I couldn’t find a single thing to criticize about this movie. Not one. For a film that had a lot to live up to, that is impressive to an unprecedented degree.
I had no reservations about Emma Watson as Belle. She was, to me, the only person who could ever hope to do the role justice; however, I was worried about her singing voice. I had never heard her sing before this film and I was terrified that it would turn out to be one of those times where a big name actor with a mediocre (at best) singing voice was cast as the lead in a musical just for the sake of having a big name.
Russel Crowe in Les Miserables *cough*
Turns out, I was worried over nothing. Emma’s voice is lovely and she brings the music in the film to life with just as much elegance as she brings the character of Belle to life. All of the original songs from the 1991 animated film were beautifully redone and the new songs that were added felt natural and were just as captivating as all the songs we already know and love. They suited the tone of the film and didn’t leave me feeling like they were simply thrown in for the sake of checking off a box on a list. Each musical number was a miniature masterpiece in its own right. A lot of thought and careful consideration was put into where these musical numbers took place, what purpose they served in the overall plot, and what kind of emotions and character development they should convey. I purchased the soundtrack to the film as soon as I got home from the theatre and have been listening to it on repeat for hours now.
There’s no denying that the 2017 remake is very much deeply rooted in the 1991 animated film, but being familiar with both the Disney animated film and the original fairy tale from 1700s France, I had a great amount of appreciation for the subtle nods to the original fairy tale that were incorporated into this retelling. I didn’t expect to see elements of the 1700s fairy tale in the 2017 adaptation so it was a small, but very pleasant surprise that shows a greater appreciation for the story’s origins beyond Disney.
I could go into detail about every single plot and characterization decision and how each and every one was done flawlessly, but then this would no longer be a spoiler-free review. Suffice it to say, everything from the original film that was crucial to be done exactly the same was done without a single discrepancy. Likewise, in every area of the film where the plot and the characters veered off in a different direction, it was done with an incredible amount of respect for the heart and soul of the animated classic while adding more depth to the characters’ backgrounds and personalities than ever before. The added subplots involving the backgrounds of a few of the key characters only makes them feel more real.
This film was sheer perfection from beginning to end, and I’m not just saying that as a fan. As a critic, everything just came together to create that magical, euphoric feeling audiences were anticipating with this movie. The musical numbers, the casting, the characters, the set design, the costumes and the story itself create a stunning combination of laughter, tears and warm nostalgia that both adults and children can fall in love with for years to come. Not a single detail, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, was overlooked. It was truly a film made with as much love as Beauty and the Beast fans have had for the original film for the past two and half decades.
If you haven’t seen the new Beauty and the Beast in theatres yet, do not miss out on the opportunity to see this masterpiece on the big screen.
If you’d like to see some “behind-the-scenes” photos and descriptions of the film’s costumes and set props, check out my blog post, My Day Inside an Enchanted Castle. I was fortune enough to be a guest at Casa Loma’s Beauty and the Beast exhibit where got to see the costumes worn in the film and some of the set props up close.