By Brielle Bryan
A young, beautiful woman held against her will in a locked room by an aggressive, beastly captor — does this situation sound romantic or disconcerting?
In Disney’s live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” Belle (Emma Watson) is supposedly strong-minded, well-read and seeking adventure outside her provincial town.
When Belle’s screw-up father, Maurice (Kevin Kline), walks into a dangerous looking castle, steals the owner’s property and gets caught, it’s no wonder the owner, the Beast, is furious and locks him up. If someone stole the most beautiful rose from my garden, I would be pretty upset, too.
Belle trades her own personal freedom to save her father from the mess he got himself into. While this was a brave move, it was also really stupid.
Maybe, instead of walking herself straight into the Beast’s lair, she could have gone back to the village and gathered reinforcements to charge the castle and save her father. That would not have given the writers the opportunity to get Belle and the Beast together, though.
Watson does a lovely job playing Belle with her fair beauty and ability to portray a strong, independent woman. In the midst of pretending to be Belle, however, she forgot about the overall message of the film that she was endorsing.
While Watson, a hardcore women’s rights activist, thought she was embodying a strong, capable woman, she was really portraying the unequivocal underlying message of how a man’s freedom is more important than a woman’s freedom.
“Beauty and the Beast” has been rewritten and adapted in different versions since French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve wrote the traditional fairytale in 1740, “La Belle et la Bête.” Before the live-action film, the most recent adaption of “Beauty and the Beast” was the animated version released in 1991.
While entrancing and entertaining, the animated “Beauty and the Beast” did have many plot holes: not one person in Belle’s village knew of the castle nearby or any of the people who lived in the castle that had been turned into inanimate objects. No one noticed Belle missing or tried to help Maurice find her.
The live-action remake fixes some of the confusing plot holes in the animated film. I always found it confusing how, in the animated film, the Beast had to fall in love before he turned 21 in order to become a prince again. His time was almost up, and he had already been cursed for 10 years –– this would have made him a 10-year-old child when the enchantress placed the curse on him for being vain. Yet as a 10-year-old, he still had potential to grow out of his arrogance and selfishness.
The live-action film did, however, make mistakes of its own when it allowed Watson to sing. While Watson wasn’t a bad pick for the look of Belle, she was absolutely terrible when it came to the vocals. Belle is supposed to encompass beauty in every way –– appearance, spirit and voice.
While Watson’s vocals were a let down, all of the other major leads made up for where she was lacking. Gaston (Luke Evans), the narcissistic man who wants to marry Belle, had excellent vocals, but was a little disappointing when it came to acting.
In the animated film, Gaston was very over the top and into himself, which is how he is supposed to be portrayed. In the live-action remake, Gaston just seems lovesick.
The writers of the remake also altered many of the lines of the new film, which took away from the rhythm and tone they were trying to replicate from its animated predecessor. In the animated version, one of the best lines in the film was when Maurice told Belle that she was ahead of her time. Maurice had a similar line in the live-action film that was squished into the middle of a long monologue, taking away from its value.
The choreography was well done in the live-action remake, as well. The love between Belle and the Beast was conveyed more intricately in the live-action dance scene while Mrs. Potts quietly serenades them with “Beauty and the Beast.”
Gaston and his sidekick LeFou’s (Josh Gadd) famous song “Gaston” also had excellent energy and choreography. The characters in the pub dance rhythmically on the tables and across the wooden floors of the small room as they praise Gaston’s beauty.
Definitely see the live-action remake of “Beauty in the Beast” if you’re looking to see some incredible computer-generated imagery and decent choreography. Otherwise, the script, acting and Watson’s vocals were subpar. Overall, the movie was full of color and energy, and I hope to be even more impressed with future classic Disney live-action remakes.