Mixed feelings about Disney’s newest live action adaptation of an original cartoon: masterpiece in scenic beauty and storytelling, but a beast of a chop job in sound and CGI.It’s iconically beautiful, scenes of my childhood unveil in perfect cake-topper symmetry. Emma Watson’s eyes sparkle as she sings through the little town. In her quiet pastel village, she’s the odd duck as the independent bookish type in bright blue. She’s a Hermione amongst so many muggles.
And the ancient story goes that her father offered to bring her a gift and she asked only for a single rose. I loved the incorporation of the original fairy tale. When he is captured, she sacrificially takes her father’s place as a prisoner at the enchanted castle where famous voices fill the gorgeous household items: Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, Sir Ian Mckellan as Cogsworth, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, and sweet Stanley Tucci as Maestro the piano.
Gaston truly stole the show. He and LeFou, French for “the fool,” perfectly capture their cartoons and embody the enemy and comrade just back from the war now looking to settle down. Rumors regarding LeFou’s identity seem forced since he is more admirer side-kick than love interest.
The tragedy of auto tune is ever-present. Even as Belle makes her sweeping Julie Andrews run up the hill in her opening scene, she’s almost at the note when it magically jumps to the next one. Not since Wall-E has a Disney flick seen the need to bend each voice so electronically. Poor Emma seemed almost upset about it sometimes, almost as much as she seemed mostly happy during the Be Our Guest scene (in which she never eats) or the library scene – always almost excited. She was most certainly asked to play Belle almost expressionlessly, especially opposite the oddly shifting CGI-bodied Beast. Emma’s stalemate facials perhaps made the beast more lifelike until he became Matthew from Downton Abbey – a truly unexpected transformation.It’s absolutely worth the watch, worth the price of the ticket. It is not ruined in any way by the tension of tech vocals or animated Beast feet. These make for decent friendly post-film chat fodder while the magic of Disney pulses forward successfully turning cartoons into live-action remakes.