Sunday, March 19, 2017

Theatrical Review: Beauty & The Beast

Date: Sunday March 19 2017
Time: 1:30pm 3:55pm
Party: 3 (mom sister and I)
Director: Bill Condon (of Breaking Dawn and Dreamgirls fame)
Screenwriters: Stephen Chbosky (wrote "Perks of Being a Wallflower", the book as well as directed the movie that Emma Watson co-starred in) and Evan Spiliotopoulos
Composer: Alan Menken (lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice)

Belle- Emma Watson 
The Beast- Dan Stevens 
Gaston- Luke Evans
LeFou- Josh Gad
Maurice- Kevin Kline
Lumiere- Ewan McGregor
Cogsworth- Ian McKellan
Mrs. Potts- Emma Thompson
Duration- 130 minutes ( +2 trailers)
Opening remarks 

It's finally here!
I almost feel like it'd been looking forward to this movie than any other- at least in a long time. I think the thing that came closest to this for me was twilight. Seeing that world I came to love in the books and its characters come to life.
As a kid I think Ariel was my favorite Disney princess- even if i always cry at the end of the little mermaid. (The goodbye at the wedding always kills me).
But beauty and the beast was always something I enjoyed but didn't have any major fandom over. But I will say as I've gotten older I love this story so much more. I see myself in belle more than any other Disney princess- we have the same appearance (brown hair brown eyes- that's the one thing about Emilie de Raven's once upon a time portrayal of belle that's amiss for me- she doesn't have brown eyes!!- otherwise she's amazing and perfect in the role).
And of course there's Belle's love of books. I really didn't get to love books as much as I do now until I was in my 20s- where I always had to be reading or was looking forward to the next installment of the series I was reading at the time. And I only recently "got" in the last couple years that people in Belle's town thought she was weird cuz she was always reading. Like what the hell is wrong with that?! Seriously...
Anyway-- it should be noted that we didn't get to the movie until almost 4.
We completely screwed up by not double checking the movie times. We got there and the movie had already started. We thought it was 1:30 and it was really 1:05.
Like wtf! Who starts a movie at such a weird time? (But I suppose if I went through old ticket stubs I might find some really random times).
So anyways my mom said "I'm sorry" a hundred times as we turned back to go home. I thought about maybe going back for the next 3D showing so we wouldn't have to wait as long. I found a review that said it didn't have enough going for it to warrant the price. So here we wait- and hopefully some other mishap doesn't happen between now and 3:55 when the next showing starts.
The Arnold Palmer invitational was the perfect way to kill time (yeah I'm such a dork- I like to read and enjoy golf and figure skating).
A bunch of people still coming into the theater despite it being one of the later showings. A few families with a bunch of little kids I hope will stay quiet for the whole movie. At the moment it doesn't sound promising.
Three people in their mid 20s or early 30s took a seat two rows ahead of us. Two girls and a guy-I wonder if he really wanted to see this or he lost a bet.
Also we're back in the theater from that notorious "La La Land" showing with the audio issues.... we'll see how it goes
(Spoiler alert: both went fine. Although some kids rows behind us were making farting noises with their mouths at one point and one of the parents in front of us crossed the aisle to tell his kids to be quiet because the BIG number- you know the one- was about to start)
Somewhere between 40 to 50 people showed up to the theater for this... which is pretty darn impressive considering this isn't the first showing of the weekend.

"Coco" is the latest Pixar film. Looks like a boy and his dog wind up in the realm of the day of the dead and he admires this man (who may or may not be his father) who is a great guitar player- mariachi type.
Then a lengthy trailer (much more than a tease) for the last Pirates movie. Complete with Johnny Depp himself in what will be his most famous role ever.
Looked impressive but I don't know if I'm sold enough to buy a ticket.
The Main Event 
We finally arrived!!
Everyone knows the story by now so I won't go too much into it.
First off the visuals are AMAZING. Definitely see a bunch of Oscar nominations in the future. For production design and possibly makeup (unless The Beast makeup is CGI- in that case maybe special effects).
Seeing the sets from the animated film in real life... it was halfway between fangasm and "I wish I could live there."
Of course Emma Watson was great as Belle. And she was definitely a strong confident woman like the character demands. In some aspects more so but that's what happened when you have the freedom to go behind what's drawn on a page.
Luke Evans oddly made me like Gaston for the first half of the movie. Not in that way but I didn't find him as repulsive. Not until he had the town believing Belle's father was crazy. He just needs to walk into a room and give his opinion and people automatically follow him. (I'm sorry but these townspeople are so fickle and stupid sometimes).
Dan Stevens embodied the beastly side of his character really well. But he also had some help from the script he was given. There were a few changes in his early interactions with Belle between the two versions that I didn't appreciate and made it harder to really like him or imagine these two together. This time around anyway I wasn't thoroughly convinced that they belonged together. There just came a point where I threw my hands up and just said "to hell with it."
Other than the romantic side (I can see how they can become friends but falling in love... not so much) everything else worked so well. There was plenty of nostalgia with the songs and the score at certain points (that transformation scene at the end in particular... that was an especially powerful moment in the original and those feelings came rushing back).
I was able to recall a lot about the original and relish in how it was adapted for this version. And I was also able to let go and appreciate the changes (well most of them) as they came.
One massive improvement- LeFou and his relationship with Gaston. Josh Gad couldn't have been any better in this role. He felt like one of those characters you see in a musical where you don't expect them to steal the show and they just do. His character arc was so great- both cause for celebration, laughs and fist pumps (in particular- the battle scene in the castle at the end).
Ewan McGregor was really great as Lumiere and "Gaston" and "Be Our Guests" and "Beauty & The Beast" were all highlights both carried over really well from the original but also bettered with the special effects. Definitely worth a round of applause.
And there are also some great twists about the townspeople and how they have connection to people in the castle.
We also get more backstory from our two main characters that don't, personally, slow the story down but add to the film's length tactfully. One or two songs ran a little long and one of the new songs maybe felt unnecessary.
Overall this is a movie and story for escapism and suspending belief and for me it did its job. Makes me wish I didn't have to go to work tomorrow and see the movie again. But I'd more than enough time away last week with the blizzard.

And when the movie finally ended, a bunch of us in the theater clapped, which pretty much says Disney did their job and nailed it.

Grade: A-

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