Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson
Directed By: Bill Condon
Written By: Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos
PG; 129 minutes
4 stars (out of 5)
I was 15 when the animated feature was released, and like many a girl, I was charmed by Disney's take on the fairy tale. I could identify with Belle, being that I was also a bookish, lonely outcast. And I remember loving the stained glass of the opening narration, and thinking Adam (I took pains to figure out the prince's actual name—remember that this was before the Internet could be found in every house and library) was quite handsome for an animated guy. I liked him more than The Little Mermaid's Eric anyway. I think it was the hair. Again, remember: 90s.
Still, the charm faded over the years. I got older and life happened. Even once I had children of my own . . . I don't know. Disney used to feel like something magical that happened only once in a while. Now it's everywhere all the time. Its ubiquitousness has cheapened it a bit, at least for me.
So. This live-action remake of the beloved animated version. Well, it goes to some effort to answer lingering questions from its predecessor, like, "Why didn't anyone notice the prince and the castle were cursed?" And, "How does Belle get the Beast onto her horse?" It also expands the stories of the castle servants and tells us how Belle and Maurice came to be in Ville Neuve. And it goes back to the original fairy tale in that the reason for Beast imprisoning Maurice is that Maurice tries to take a rose from Beast's garden.
It also gave us some new songs that weren't all that necessary.
As for all the fuss about Le Fou being gay, it wasn't nearly as in-your-face as I was expecting. I think they could've done more, in fact, but I suppose they feel they need to be gradual with these things.
There was a moment when I was afraid they would err on the side of "men dressed as women = shaming for the men," but I was glad to see they twisted that a bit.
I was entertained, yes. I thought the production design was magnificent. The acting pretty much spot on. But the sum total did not, as they say, bowl me over. I didn't walk out wowed, merely satisfied.
And that's fine. Not every meal you eat is going to be memorable. Some will simply fill you when you're hungry. At least this isn't one I'll remember for being terrible.