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Beautiful or Beastly? Two Reviewers Consider Disney’s Hit Musical

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Photo by: John Desmond

Photo by: John Desmond

Photo by: John Desmond

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Disney’s recent string of live-action movies has created hype among Disney-lovers, and the announcement of Beauty and the Beast has taken the trend in a new direction. Unlike other Disney features, Beauty and the Beast is a musical, and stars Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast.

Here, two Comenian staff writers share their perspectives on Disney’s new hit, sharing their strong opinions on the film’s successes and failures.

Give Me Evermore of Beauty and the Beast, by Katelyn Snyder

Musicals have never been my thing, so at the beginning of the movie I was nervous about the extensive amount of singing. Fortunately, the film became much more balanced and plot-based with the songs highlighting certain scenes rather than defining them. The songs, in my opinion, were performed well, and I enjoyed the song “Evermore” sung by Beast because it gave the monster a more human characterization.

Beast, as compared to the character in the original movie, seemed more relatable. In the new production, he had more of a backstory that helped to contribute to his character development. This helped the audience to connect more to the character. Beast had an interesting personality, which was both quirky and adorable, which contrasted with his bestial appearance.

The opposite of the Beast, Gaston became more despicable as the movie progressed. Gaston is much more of a static character than Beast, but he does have some negative character development. Gaston is selfish and shallow, willing to do anything to accomplish his petty goals. The actions he takes throughout the movie become more desperate and evil as he strives to marry Belle. The movie would be incomplete without the villain, causing many fans to have a love-hate relationship with Gaston.

Beauty and the Beast was a very relatable and inclusive movie. Each of the cursed residents of the castle had different and distinct personalities, and the same for the human characters. In addition, they utilized a seemingly gay character and a cross-dressing or potentially transgender character during a brief scene.

As with any production, not everyone will like the choices in the movie. For some people, like me, character development is one aspect I highly enjoy watching, whereas for others it may be the visuals or acting choices. Although I believe that what the production lacks, it makes up for in the plot and characterization.

Tale as Old as Time…And Maybe Too Old to Keep Remaking, by John Desmond

Beauty and the Beast  was not the first remake animated film by Disney, nor will it be the last, but it was highly anticipated and in box office numbers there is certainly a lot of beauty in the hundreds of millions of dollars that it made just on opening weekend alone. However, there is much more to the film than just the numbers, and there are certainly some critiques.

While many aspects of the movie were deserving of praise, there were quite a few aspects which could have been vastly improved. We all know Hermoine Granger — Emma Watson — was cast as the brilliant teenage witch in the Harry Potter series, and maybe after concluding those movies, she should’ve found a more prosperous career somewhere else. The choice to play her as Belle was not at all appropriate: Belle’s not English, and Belle can sing. Apart from the fact that I felt like at any point in time Belle was going to be askin’ me for a spot of tea wif’ a crumpet, Watson’s thick British accent did not help her case as an actor. You are constantly reminded of her childish face getting ready to head to a potions class, and the animated film certainly portrays Belle as having a much more mature appearance.

Sound editors certainly had a field day, right from the opening scene with Watson’s singing, or I should say lack thereof. Two completely different voices echoed throughout the theater and at any point that Watson sang, you just couldn’t actually picture her singing “Something There” in regards to feelings for the Beast or that a singing voice was most certainly not there.

A co-star of Watson’s–Emma Thompson–was also a poor casting choice. Again, she’s from the wizarding world of Harry Potter, and she should have stayed there. While Thompson’s voice was much more pleasant than Watson’s, her voice was too cheerful and uplifting, especially when it came time for the pinnacle point in the movie, “Beauty and the Beast.”

The whole movie is solely centered on a song and dance, both of which were certainly quirky. The dance between Belle and the Beast did not represent the intimacy and the “falling in love” aspect to their relationship. The two seemed more distant than together, and not to mention the song was rushed. Emma Thompson had one job–ONE JOB–to sing timidly, reservedly, and have a soft tone to “Beauty and the Beast.” In fact that’s the title of the movie. However the song was rushed, it was sung too high, and Thompson’s words were too sharp and precise. Her song did not flow to create a soothing melody; expectations were hardly touched. Those were my two biggest complaints, and Disney should pay closer attention to their casting choices; they decide to cast actors and actresses who cannot sing. The talent pool is quite large, so find a fish or two that can actually sing.

Disney’s Beauty and The Beast was certainly a blockbuster hit by the numbers–numbers that is in regards to the enormous revenue the movie has generated. Diversions from the original story, poor casting choices, and a rushed love song, certainly detracted from what could’ve been a much more celebrated film.  

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