Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Beauty and the Beast

You all know the story; when the Prince (Dan Stevens) refuses to accommodate a traveller in need he is turned into a beast as a punishment for all his selfish deeds but still has a chance to change. If he does not find love before the final petal falls off the rose he will be cursed for all eternity, living life as a beast. The world forgets about him bu when Maurice (Kevin Kline) is kidnapped by the beast his daughter, Belle (Emma Watson), offers to replace him. Imprisoned, Belle attempts to escape but in her bid to escape Belle is cornered by wolves, and rescued by the beast who injuries himself in the process. Belle tends to his injuries and pair begin to feel affection for one another. The village, however, get wind of Belle's capture and rush to storm the castle.

Much was made about the latest Beauty and The Beast adaptation, the trailer (and the teaser trailer) broke the record for the most amount of views in the space of 24 hours (with the full trailer reaching 127m views in just 24 hours). Also there was a lot of buzz about the feminist leanings of the film, and the introduction of gay character. All in all, it was a lot of hubbub over nothing, the gay character is a blink and you’ll miss it, and film’s feminist leanings though evident (she refuses to marry Gaston, sacrifices herself for her father, and makes her own choices resulting in alienation from her village), don’t exactly match all the preamble, plus films like Brave and Frozen have already improved female depictions in fantasy/fairy tale films in a more interesting and genre defying way.

The 1991 Beauty and the Beast was the first ever animated film to nominated for the Best Picture Oscar (back in the days where only five films were nominated) partly due to the incredible and extravagant visuals. The 2017 version retains much of that visual extravagance, the sweeping camera movements (one moment perfectly emulates the Song of Music), incredible set design (GCI and otherwise), and marvellous costume design makes Beauty and the Beast a visual treat. However, other aspects don’t quite retain the same magic (perhaps plagued by its overlong running time), the choreography of the musical sequences isn’t quite as spectacularly done as the film’s imaginative surroundings and the songs themselves are pretty forgettable even if they improve with the increase in the dramatic tempo of the songs.

Emma Watson passed over La La Land to play Belle in Beauty and the Beast and it gives us a chance to see what we might have missed if she played the role of Mia. Honestly, I don’t think Emma Watson playing the role Mia would have improved La La Land, however she does a decent job in Beauty and the Beast despite her solo performances being upstaged by Dan Stevens’ terrific and heartfelt rendition of Evermore. Dan Stevens is the best thing about the film (following the film’s visuals) as his performance as the Beast is quite touching and once Belle and the Beast do strike up a quite tender relationship we actually get something worth investing in.

However, the film’s touching and exciting conclusion isn’t worth sitting through the film's less memorable first two acts which drag(despite the slightly amusing camaraderie between the various household items and ornaments).  


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