Plot holes. Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast fixes (nearly all of) the plot holes, and that is incredibly satisfying. Now, I’m just assuming that you, the reader, know what plot holes I am speaking of. If not, I’ll elaborate (and also, where were you in the 90s or was your childhood just sad? #BeautyAndTheBeastForLife). The plot holes that I am referring to are as follows: the age of the Prince when he is cursed, the village just not knowing or remembering that they were once ruled by a king who lives in a castle walking/horse riding distance from town, and how Belle got the Beast back to the castle after he was attacked by wolves.
The Prince’s age was a simple one to fix. Instead of giving a definitive ten years as they did in the animated film (how are you going to curse an 11 year old for being rude to a stranger who just showed up at his door?), they just fix some lines and *poof* plot hole gone.
The town forgetting about the castle was another easy plot hole to fix. Simply have the enchantress cast a spell on the village to forget about the fact that they were being ruled by a king. Plot hole gone.
The third plot hole was another one that was easily fixed (thank goodness these were all simple plot holes. Oof). In the animated film, after the wolf attack, Belle gets the Beast on top of her horse in order to get him back to the castle. But, how did this small woman succeed in that? Was it like an adrenaline thing? Like, when a mother lifts a car off of her trapped child? Turns out, no. She simply told him that she needs him to stand up. So, that’s cool.
The one question that I still have, in regards to plot holes from the original film is what about Chip? Was he a child when everybody was cursed? If so, does he age? Do any of them age? Or are they stuck in a weird time limbo where the Prince ages but nobody else does? I guess this can fall into the fixing of the Prince’s timeline, but in “Be Our Guest” they state “many years we’ve been rusting”. We get the sense that it’s been a crazy long time. But, if everybody is aging, Chip can’t be more than 8 or 9. Like, sure that is a while, but I was under the impression from the way they all acted that it’s been ten years or more. Anyway. Moving on, Kristen. Do not dwell on this.
Alan Menken’s still got it. I was thrilled that Disney used the original composer for this film. And, I’m equally as thrilled that Tim Rice was brought on as lyricist. (Howard Ashman would have been proud, RIP.) It helped the additional music not stick out as much. And it was the little added touches within the score that I loved so dearly. For example, in “Be Our Guest”, when the lyric “We’ll prepare and serve with flair a culinary cabaret”, the background music at that point was literally the music from the song “Cabaret” from the musical by the same name. Perfect. My favorite touch, however, was the addition of an instrumental version of the song “Home” from the Beauty and the Beast Broadway musical. It was subtle, beautiful, and fit perfectly. There were only two things that I was disappointed with. And when I say I was “disappointed” I mean “ever so slightly”. There were several songs where lines had been cut and verses had been added, and it was a bit odd. However, it is made less odd when you know that these lyrics were ones that were originally written by the late Howard Ashman that simply did not make it into the cut of the original film. The most noticeable one was the song “Gaston”, with the inclusion of lyrics such as
“When I hunt, I sneak up with my quiver
And beasts of the field say a prayer
First, I carefully aim for the liver
Then I shoot from behind”
The lyric (everybody’s favorite) that was most noticeably left out was
“Not a bit of him’s scraggly or scrawny.”
“That’s right! And ev’ry last inch of me’s covered with hair”
Although the dance sequence added in this song was bomb.
My other complaint is the clear Oscar grab. Since none of the songs from the original animated film are eligible for an Academy Award, a song, “Evermore”, had been added and, boy, did it stick out like a sore thumb. The transition for it was, well, silly. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it much of a transition. The Beast is, at one moment, lying in bed, then we do this weird flashback type thing to him as a little boy singing by his mother’s bedside. It was weird. It was unnecessary. Everybody in the theater I was in laughed. I’m not kidding.
Speaking of things that were unnecessary, the reveal as to what happened with Belle’s mother was completely unnecessary. In fact, that entire segment was weird. Look. I get it. The original film was only ninety minutes, the average for an animated children’s movie. However, live-action films are, on average, longer than that. They needed to add material to fill the gaps. And, that’s just what that segment felt like. It felt like filler. It wasn’t crucial to the plot that Belle find out what happened to her mother. It was an afterthought that somebody definitely should have thought more about.
Okay. So, I’ve talked about the music. Let’s move on to the vocals. Josh Gad and Luke Evans crushed it. They were phenomenal. Josh Gad was crazy perfect casting for the role of Le Fou. And Luke Evans was equally as good as Gaston. I was a bit worried because his voice, clearly, is not as low as Richard White’s, who played Gaston in the animated film. I was worried that he wouldn’t be, well, evil enough. And, I’m happy to say that I was proven otherwise. He played his higher voice in a more sinister way that perfectly worked in the film. Moving on to our two leads, I must say, it was what I had expected since the first trailer with Emma Watson singing had come out. The auto-tune on both her voice and Ben Steven’s voice were so incredibly noticeable. I get it. You wanted a big name for the lead role of Belle. But, you couldn’t have found somebody who could also sing, or at least not need so much help with auto-tune? And, frankly, I’m baffled by Dan Stevens. He clearly wasn’t brought on because he is a big name. He only has a handful of things that he’s done, and most of that has been television. I know that they had to alter his voice, as his natural voice is not deep enough. I get that part. But, there is a distinct difference between altering the voice to make it lower and auto-tune. And they did both of those things. And the auto-tune is so clear. It hurts me. But, other than that aspect, I thought that both actors performed well in the, well, acting bit of it.
Do you know who else performed well? Literally everybody who played the enchanted objects in the castle. Ian Mckellan, Emma Thompson, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and, of course, Ewan McGregor. He hit it out of the park with this one. He was funny and charming, and his French accent was actually not bad. And, I liked the homage that was paid to McGregor during the “Be Our Guest” number, when the entire song took a turn towards the finale of Moulin Rouge. It was a nice touch.
I do just want to take a moment to touch on something that was so wonderful to see on screen, and that is diversity. The diversity of the dancers in the beginning of the film, during the flashback to the Prince’s ball and his encounter with the Enchantress. I also greatly enjoyed the fact that there were not one, but TWO interracial couples. And it was never addressed. It was never mentioned. Which was the greatest part about the entire thing. It was normal. Because it is normal.
I must say that it was troublesome, with how far we’ve come with makeup, that the Beast was still CGI. Although, I did just read (because I’m learning here too, people), that director Bill Condon did want to have the Beast done completely in practical makeup. However, by the end, they used CGI solely for his face. Everything else is practical makeup. So, at least there’s that.
I can’t write about this film and not talk about one scene in particular that was absolutely heart wrenching, and I hope that you already know which scene I’m talking about. It’s a scene that was not in the original film. It was one that was added. But, unlike the flashback scenes that had been added, this one fit perfectly. It added to the film in the best way possible. And that would be the scene towards the end of the film, when Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and everybody else are preparing in the best way they can to become those objects for eternity. They are preparing to never be human again. And, yes, I will admit it. I was crying in the movie theater over a footrest dog and a French candlestick. I was crying hard.
All in all, I’d say that Disney outdid themselves with this film, especially when you compare it to the previous live-action adaptation, Cinderella (which I have a whole rant about. Ask me about it sometime). They had all the charm of the animated film, and all the magic of seeing that film brought to life in live action on the big screen. It was absolutely worth my money.