Review of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”

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**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

Pros:

The music and singing were fantastic.  I was truly impressed with Emma Watson’s voice and felt she embodied Belle in character and voice when compared to the animated movie.  Her acting was believable and not over-done, she had chemistry with her father (Kevin Kline), Gaston (Luke Evans) and the Beast (Dan Stevens).

I loved the costuming and only had a few issues with outfits (see ‘cons’).

The movie story line followed the animated movie quite well, added in some new songs (I’ve been told from the stage play) and layered in some other story points to add depth to the tale.

Cons:

Two wardrobe ‘malfunctions’ of note:  Belle’s skirt being tucked into her waistband and then, inexplicably, not.  And in one of the final scenes she discards the signature yellow ball gown and rides to the castle in, presumably, nothing but her undergarments.

I was disappointed in Dan Stevens but only because he isn’t (wasn’t?) Robbie Benson.  I’ll admit I had a not-so-small crush on Robbie Benson for most of my pre-teen through college years.  Okay, who am I kidding, I still do.  He was what I pictured the “Beast” to be (even though he was animated and the prince looked nothing like him in the animated version).  In every other way The Beast played by Dan Stevens was fantastic.

The ballroom scene was a bit stilted and I was unimpressed with the lack of actual ballroom dancing.

The CGI wolves were corny.  I’m surprised that with all of Disney’s skill they couldn’t make more realistic looking wild animals.  And there were a few scenes where the CGI of the Beast were a bit off.

The Hype

Disney and many review sites made a huge deal about the reveal of some ‘exclusively gay moments’ in the movie.  It was, as I suspected, media hype by Disney to get more press about the movie.  The ‘moments’ were tame and most people wouldn’t even have blinked if the media commotion hadn’t been so pronounced.  I’m EXTREMELY pleased that Disney didn’t take a traditionally romantic fairy tale and rewrite it to make a politically correct social commentary.  Although the original story is not completely portrayed in either the animated or live-action version, the story is a heterosexual romance between a man and a woman.  The main social commentary that should be prevalent in the story is that appearances are not an indication of a person’s value, character or principles.  Perhaps Disney can use their deep well of talent to create and develop their own, original story lines if they want to accommodate romantics of other sexual genres.

I didn’t read up on the cast before, so it was a pleasant surprise to see Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts and Lumiere portrayed by some well-known actors.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie a great deal.  Several friends and I, with their pre-/teenage daughters attended together as a Girls Night. We saw it on a Monday evening (it opened Friday); the theater was half-full; mostly couples and women.  I managed NOT to sing the songs however I did lip sync quite a few of them.  It was not as emotionally wrenching and breath-taking as the live action Cinderella (although several of the ladies I attended with cried during the movie).  I will see it at least one more time in the theater; and I’ll buy the soundtrack which should be impressive.

 

Professional Review sites:

Plugged In

Rotten Tomatoes

 

News Articles:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/human-again-the-exclusively-gay-moment-in-beauty_us_58ccd706e4b0537abd9570f7

http://attitude.co.uk/world-exclusive-beauty-and-the-beast-set-to-make-disney-history-with-gay-character/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/39125727/beauty-and-the-beast-to-feature-disneys-first-gay-character-and-love-scene

 

Disney’s Cinderella Movie Review March 14, 2015

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I’ll put in the ***SPOILER ALERT*** but really, is there ANYONE who doesn’t know the story of Cinderella?  If you don’t, then get to a library right now and either read the book or watch any one of the following movies – Disney’s Animated Cinderella (1950), Ever After (1998), A Cinderella Story (2004), Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (actually a movie about the theater play 1957 and 1965).

The first hint of this movie made me reluctant to see it.  A live action movie about Cinderella?  Disney will surely muck it up.  I mean, they’ll cast someone(s) horrible as the main characters or screw up the story or make it politically correct or change the time period.  Maleficent is a perfect example of this.

And then, I followed the casting choices and watched the trailers and fell in love.  Okay, maybe it was just a crush, but tonight, after watching the movie, I fell in love with the story all over again.  You can read plenty of professional reviews (pluggedin.com gives a great rating system and outlines all the swear words, sex, violence and offensive items in the film).  This is NOT a professional review.

What did I not like?  More what I found out of place.  None of the female characters dressed in the same time-period for their costumes; while the men seemed to all dress from the same time period (except Ella’s father who was out of place).

There were a few pieces of dialogue that were difficult to understand; and the story, although familiar was a bit slow at the beginning.  Even though you know what’s coming, at some points I wanted to get there a bit faster than the movie moved.

What I loved?  EVERYTHING!  The costumes, the characters, the story, the scenery.

Cinderella’s family is complete until it’s not and then the step-mother and –sisters come into the picture and she remains the same person even though the people around her are just cruel and evil and mean and her life is less than perfect.  She talks to the animals, keeps the house, does the laundry and the cooking and the shopping and still manages to sew a dress and make a cozy sanctuary in the attic of her home.

Lucifer (the step-cat?), Gus-gus, Josephine and several other animals make appearances; there’s even some lizards, a goose and of course, the pumpkin.

The Prince is completely charming and funny and handsome and conflicted.  He struggles with doing what’s right and doing what his heart tells him; pleasing his father, taking care of his kingdom and dealing with loss. And those eyes burn a hole right through you!

The Step-mother is wicked and evil and mean and beautiful, as are her daughters.

And the Fairy God-mother?  Perfect.  I’m a HUGE Helena Bonham-Carter fan; although usually she over-does her characters.  She was absolutely flawless in her part and not over the top.

The costuming is fantastic, the castle and countryside are beautiful, and the ball was stunning.

There’s little singing (which I LOVED) and beautiful dancing.  There’s horse riding and fencing and magic.

I loved that the Prince grieved for his father.  I loved that Ella understood and encouraged him to do what was right.

And the casting of Ella (Lilly James) and Kit (Richard Madden) was perfection.  I’ve never watched Downton Abbey OR Game of Thrones and so the characters were fresh and new and completely believable.  And good heavens, but they are both beautiful!  Swoon-worthy beautiful.

There’s even some physical chemistry that’s hinted at with gasps and smiles and a couple of unfulfilled kisses.

Although the reviewers would like you to believe the message is to “be courageous and kind”, and it’s repeated often throughout the film; the message I found most “charming” was that it took courage to be yourself and not what others wanted you to be.  (I can’t remember the exact quote).

All in all, this is a movie I will watch over and over again; and will buy as soon as it comes out on disc.  It was totally and absolutely perfect.  And I even made it through the “Frozen” short beforehand without throwing up or screaming.  (The short, by the way, was contrived, thin and although funny; not really even worth a mention.  But some of you know how much I loathe Frozen, and I know you’d ask.)