Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Film Review: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast - 4 Stars

Okay, so I must be the only one on the planet not to have seen the original Disney “Beauty and the Beast”. Seeing that it came out in 1991 when I was moving myself to London, I like to think that I had better things to do at the time. Besides, I was aware of the general story, why did I need to see it?

So this new Disney live action film come out and I’m a bit interested. I do like Emma Watson. It’s been great to see her grow out of Hermione Granger’s shadow and into a decent actress. I’m rather fond of Luke Evans. I sort of like Dan Stevens even if he will never come out of Lady Mary Crawley’s pall after that car crash on Downton Abbey – besides, he has lovely blue eyes.

Sam and I took ourselves off to see this on our semi-regular girls night out – not the animated version, but the 2017 Emma Watson, “gay-scandal in Malaysia” version. 

And we loved every minute of it.

The story is quite simple. Belle, a bit of a misfit in her village is the daughter of a local merchant. The Merchant goes off to Paris to sell his wares. Belle asks him to bring back a rose for her. On the way back from the trip, the merchant strays off course where he ends up at the castle of a once handsome prince, who having pissed off a local witch.  The witch has turned him into a beast – and quite a gnarly one at that. He has until the last petal falls off of a rose to find somebody to love him as he loves her back. (Yeah, not the greatest feminist message out there and as I have written this word thirty times today it is front of mind) While picking said rose for Belle, the Merchant the beast captures him – he’s not very happy about his roses going missing – even if nobody has been around the place for years.

Back in the village, a vain git called Gaston is trying to win Belle’s hand. She sees him for the rubbish suitor he would be and tells him to go get stuffed. When her father’s horse returns without him, Belle goes to search him out. Finding him inprisoned, she takes her father’s place. You'd think he'd like a visitor.

Okay – they you have the middle bit of the movie, the Beast and Belle fall in love, Gaston comes to search her out, but not after being rebuffed by her father. There is a big fight scene and then the witch reverses the spell and they all live happily ever after.

Okay, you don’t think about the slightly creepy through that there is this bloke – turned into a beast, who is keeping a woman against her will (though thinking about it, he does treat her well in captivity). You also overlook the fairly bad case of Stockholm Syndrome which Belle appears to procure. And you can forgive the overacting by most of the cast as this is a Disney Musical.

We loved it. It was a fanstastic film to just sit back and enjoy. Emma Watson is the quintessential Belle. Kevin Kline is both believable and fun as her father. I was quite taken with Luke Evans as the dreadful, arrogant and redemption-less Gaston. He was superb. And Josh Gad was brilliant as Le Fou, Gaston’s sidekick.

Much has been made of the homosexual overtones from Le Fou’s admiration / love for Gaston. Malaysia banned the film because of this. In my honest opinion, stupid move. There is nothing to it. It’s very fun to watch, completely inoffensive and could happily be construed as one many admiring another, if you wanted to. I was shocked at Malaysia’s over-reaction to some fun scenes.

Other cast members who provided voices, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci and Ian McKellen, to name a few, were great as the CGI furniture and cutlery who keep the beast company.

This is a fabulous film to take kids to, or bigger kids. It’s great fun. There isn’t an over commitment to the songs and you leave with a big smile on your face, even if you do wonder why Malaysia was having such a hard time with the fact that two guys are dancing on screen. And they weren’t even twerking. 

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