Movies – Beauty and the Beast Review (or “A Visual Feast, Not An Audible One”)

April 7, 2017

Seeing as pretty much everyone who goes to see Beauty and the Beast has probably already seen the cartoon version, the onus of any review should not be on whether or not it’s a good story, but rather if it manages to successfully bring the cartoon to life.

It does and it doesn’t.

From the very beginning you can see that unlike the Jungle Book – which played it straighter with almost none of the songs from the original present – this was planned as a shot for shot remake. Yes, it adds a bit here, removes a bit there and expands upon/offers a new interpretation on some elements from the cartoon, but it’s essentially the same thing.

And it looks spectacular, it really does. This movie is without question a feast for the eyes.

Unfortunately it’s not a feast for the ears.

Because here’s the problem; it’s a musical and many of the actors hired to play the parts can’t sing to the standard you’d expect.

Take Emma Watson for example; there’s no question that she looks the part for the role and although she’s not the best actress by any stretch of the imagination, she manages to get by.

But she really can’t sing.

She talks through most of her lyrics and every word seems to be auto-tuned to the max. It’s quite difficult to listen to, especially considering how good the songs are from the original.

You can almost excuse it though because the role of Belle really had to be filled with an actress of some repute.

What I don’t get is why they had to cast big-name actors who can’t sing for characters who are CGI teapots and candles for 99% of the movie. One of the big draws from the original was Angela Lansbury’s Beauty & The Beast song which gets absolutely murdered by Emma Thompson. The same applies to Ewan McGregor’s destruction of Be Our Guest.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I doubt many people go to see a movie based upon which actors are doing voice parts so why not just hire people who are maybe not so well-known but could have done a better job?

It’s not all bad though on that front. I thought the casting of The Beast (Dan Stevens) and especially Gaston (Luke Evans) was bang on. The latter managed to both look like the cartoon version and was actually able to sing.

And one of those songs brought up a significant aspect of the movie; Disney’s first openly LBGTQ character.

This has caused a lot of silly and unnecessary controversy from backward thinking countries/regions who are appalled at the thought of two men dancing but are strangely ok with a young girl falling in love with a giant horned animal.

I get the significance, but – and I say this as a straight, white male and thus not the demographic that this will be as important to – I can’t help but feel that making that first character the bumbling, stupid sidekick of the villain was a poor choice. And the writing and performance – especially in the Gaston song – seemed rather worryingly to be based on the relationship between Craig and Anthony in Big Brother 6. Anyone remember that?

Anyway, on the whole it was enjoyable but if you were to ask me if I’d rather watch this one or the original, I’d definitely pick the cartoon. The songs are just too central to what makes the movie what it is, and that’s where the live version is let down.

So it brings it visually to life, just not audibly.



Films: The Impossible Review (or ‘Not Really A Disaster Movie, But That’s A Good Thing’)

January 9, 2013

In my 2012 Awards, I mentioned that I only went to the cinema 14 times last year. That much is true, but I subsequently remembered that I actually went to a different cinema to see The Artist and therefore had only used my Cineworld Unlimited ticket a grand total of 13 times.

What that means is that I paid an average of £13.84 every time I went to see a film.

Talk about poor value for money…

So I’m making a conscious decision to go more often and get some use out of the card in 2013.

That run begins with The Impossible

What’s This One About?

It’s based on the true story of a family who are separated from each other as a result of the Tsunami that devastated Thailand on Boxing Day 2004.The_Impossible

Thoughts – Not Really A Disaster Movie

When I was thinking about how I was going to approach this review during the film, I had considered making a flippant remark about how the film was about a woman who cut her leg during a tsunami trying to get to a hospital, because that’s what it seemed to be about initially.

And in fairness, beyond the wow factor of the tsunami hitting at the start – a special effect that is done exceptionally well by the way – there isn’t much to it in terms of a plot.

But as the film developed it became clear that it wasn’t really about the story moving from A to B to C, but rather about showing the effect the tsunami had on the people caught up on it. Rather than being a ‘Disaster Movie’ in the same way as The Towering Inferno or Volcano where the event is the star of the show, this is more of a study of the immediate aftermath of the incident; the loss, the heartache, the damage the tsunami caused and the chaos in the villages, towns and nearby hospitals.

And what you get is a very powerful piece of film.

Most of the credit has to go to the actors, who are all very good, and I include the child actors in that.

Usually I hate child actors because they are invariably either unconvincingly crap or horribly crafted Hollywood kids who appear to have been bred specifically for the movies (like Macaulay Culkin or the girl from Matilda who you never hear of anymore).

But these ones were all convincing. The oldest and most significant one – Tom Holland – took a little bit of time to grow on me because of his bratty English accent, but I have to say he won me over pretty quick.

And both Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts were excellent. In particular, the scene were McGregor’s character breaks down on the phone to once of his relatives is heart-wrenchingly believable.

‘Based’ On A True Story

The film is called The Impossible, no doubt because of the very long odds of the family being reunited again after the tsunami hit, but it is based on a true story, so what happens must have a certain element of credibility to it.

However, you do have to wonder how much creative license is on display here, because I have to admit I found the way certain members of the family find each other again (and I’m trying to avoid spoilers here…) to be beyond far-fetched.

I know that they must have found each other, otherwise there’s no film to be had here, but it just seemed a little bit too coincidental to be 100% true. Maybe I’m wrong, but it’s so out there that if it wasn’t based on a true story, you’d really mark the film down a few points for coming up with such a twee ending.

Should You Go To See The Impossible? 

I think I would place The Impossible on the same shelf as films like United 93 and The Passion of Christ.

You watch them, you are drained by the emotional nature of what is on display in front of you, and though you really enjoy it you’re in no hurry to see it again.

It gives an eye-opening look into just how bad things were during the tsunami and it holds your attention for the whole two hours. My dad – who I went to see this with – said he felt it could have lost around half an hour of screen time and been better for it, but I don’t necessarily agree; I was enthralled throughout.

So I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you see this film, but I’d be prepared for a more draining emotional couple of hours rather than a Hollywood blockbuster with a dazzling script.