sammywhatammy: (Default)
☆Sam☆ ([personal profile] sammywhatammy) wrote2012-03-20 09:41 am

live action Beauty and the Beast notes...there are a LOT

I saw the new live action Beauty and the Beast, and I have Thoughts.

as a few disclaimers, I have a background in studying musical theater, as well as animation - I particularly want to be a storyboard artist, whose job it is to help plan cinematography and shots, visually interpret the script, and be a part of the story process in general. both of these contribute to my being so critical of the movie, tho BATB is hardly the only movie I scrutinize due to these disciplines I have.

and, admittedly, the animated BATB is my favorite Disney movie of all time, so if I'm more critical of this movie than others, it's due to that. ...and I certainly admit being defensive of it. (years of hearing the 'Stockholm Syndrome' argument did that to me hahaha)

that said, I'm always open to discussion! excellent arguments have changed my mind in the past, and I'm always happy to accept that I'm flat out wrong about something

more disclaimers and general shit BLAH BLAH BLAH no one cares Sam

I hadn't kept an eye on news and new screenshots and interviews and what have you (I don't for anything ever, really), tho I'm going to have to now. I've heard secondhand a lot of stuff regarding Emma Watson and The Dress...

I didn't mean to bring my notebook, but I'm glad I did because writing everything down was going to be the only way this stuff would be preserved since my memory is so fucking horrific HAHA
I filled two entire pages - front AND back - with notes
I have a few things I like, a few things I'm unsure about, buuuuuuut...yeah, mostly complaints

the movie actually helped me realize stuff I hadn't even thought of with the animated movie! does the castle have food supplies...
also, I can't believe I had never put words to it before, but the theory that in the animated film, the Prince just being a child when the enchantress cursed him really bothered me but I couldn't put my finger on why. thankfully, the live action helped me out - why would the Prince age if Chip never did??? it's not like Mrs. Potts, as a teapot, could...y'know...propagate.

from an animation/musical theater/storyboard perspective

so, the main reason I hadn't followed any behind-the-scenes stuff was, admittedly, the bad taste in my mouth from the moment I saw the design of the Beast and The Dress.
in my opinion, the Beast is too human looking - they removed too many elements from the animated design to really hammer home that he's a goddamned Beast. I understand that they probably had the concern of too many of those said elements obscuring his face when they would have to heavily rely on CGing his face and covering his emoting, but...too human. make the fangs bigger, give him the buffalo ears, the more hulking and, at first, intimidating body of a bear. these wouldn't interfere with his face and acting, but add greatly to being a BEAST. ffs

and The Dress. dear god. the art department did a very good job of evoking the time period that they firmly decided on - the 1740's rather than some vague 1700's timeline - the over-elaborate designs and flourishes of the Baroque period. therefore, The Dress stands out like a sore thumb.
it neither brings out the time period as it should, and - as an excellent article I read from a costume designer's perspective - nor does it evoke Belle. Belle's dress from the animated is iconic; it's not possible to look at it and not know that it's her. that experience doesn't happen with the live action dress; it just looks like some prom dress.
from what I've heard (and as of writing have yet to research), Emma Watson designed the dress for the most part, if not its entirety. she was insistent on there being no corset because Belle is a free, independent woman, and it needed to have great mobility for when she rides away when the Beast sets her free. and she wanted Belle to not look "princess-y".
FIRST OF ALL...BELLE IS A GODDAMNED DISNEY PRINCESS. she is in the pantheon. this is a princess movie. a strong, independent, intelligent, feminist woman can BE a princess if she wants. these are not mutually exclusive concepts. there's no wrong way to be a woman. feminism doesn't mean the discarding of the super feminine; if you want to be super feminine, BE super feminine. holy shit, Emma.
also, corsets began as a method of keeping POSTURE. there was certainly abuse soon after due to the desired contrast of a small waist against the huge skirts of the time, but Belle, as someone not from high society, could get away with not using it for that purpose.
I understand that, as an artistic choice, Belle needed to stay in The Dress in order to be a bright spot in all the winter environment so the Beast can see her as she rides away. but...part of the production team for this movie is Hollywood caliber costumers. if she voiced those concerns, I'm CERTAIN they could have come up with a design that is still Belle's dress but also includes that element of mobility for that scene in the movie. THAT'S THEIR JOB.

okay. moving on.

the movie in general was too fast paced. it also was too fast in what should be intimate or important moments that should have high impact and create certain kinds of tension. tho it's undoubtedly because they added some new original scenes, a lot of that stuff is superfluous and could have been cut to allow for time.
the speed also caused a lot of scenes to feel terribly rushed, losing impact to greater or lesser degrees.
the opening narration (which, I love you dearly Emma Thompson, but didn't have the same weight and sense of sorrow as the animated).
we should also have just a beat more of time to see Belle change her mind about leaving the Beast in the snow; that's important.
likewise, seeing the Beast's face as he changes his mind about dropping Gaston is crucial to see how he's changed!

a lot of story choices also removed focus and added time that could have been otherwise better used for what's actually important to the story.
I don't understand the necessity of the subplot dealing with Belle's mother; all that matters is that she lost her mother. knowing what truly happened to her added nothing to Belle's development or the story.
I HATE that they brought the enchantress back. again, a massive loss of focus as a...subplot? and definitely something that took away from the emotional climax of the movie. we should be focused on Belle and her grief, not get distracted from that by showing the servants freezing and then the enchantress restoring the rose. (also does that mean his life is forever tied to the damn rose? jfc)
related to both of the above complaints, the enchantress isn't supposed to be "cruel" (I mean, the curse is already cruel to an extent), so the map/globe (I already forgot) feels like rubbing it in, plus its only use is for the Belle's mother subplot (which, again, has no point as far as I can tell).
showing all the residents of the castle as humans at the beginning is TERRIBLE. faces are obscured due to heavy Georgian make-up, but it doesn't matter - it lessens the relief and joy and wonder of seeing everyone as humans at the very end.

the cinematography and shots were terrible. medium when they should have been close, far when they should have been medium, etc etc. it caused a huge loss of intimacy of moments when they should be there, and often lost focus on what should be the goddamned focus.
why pan over to part of the damn ceiling decorations was pointless. yes, in the animated we see the ceiling, but that has a sort of point - it's a mural that starts moving to watch them as they dance; it shows how everyone is pulled to watch the feelings that are developing/has developed between the two. in the live action, it's just some wall sconces that move a bit. so???
the shots with the post-dance conversation didn't give a sense of intimacy, and even the body language doesn't convey it, either.

as someone with a musical theater background, it drives me CRAZY when musical movies choose big names who can't sing versus...finding people who can sing. the amount of auto-tune in this movie drives me bonkers. I know the movie industry mainly wants to bank on big names drawing people to the movie, but this is one of Disney's best and most beloved animated movies - they could certainly afford to audition talented unknowns and people would still flock to the movie just because it's Disney, BATB, and live action...especially if they put out trailers that show how talented the unknowns are; song clips and etc.
Belle is pretty much all auto-tuned. Beast...has some, but it's hard to tell how much due to the altered deepening of his voice. Mrs. Potts definitely...which is so sad. the high thin quality of Emma Thompson's voice, plus auto-tune, really took me out of the moment of the ball. if they got anybody from the animated, I wish it had been Lansbury. (I ADORE Emma Thompson, don't get me wrong)

the separation of Belle from the villagers is not established very well. in the animated, they lived outside the village to make a point, and it was a very deliberate choice to make her the only character dressed in blue against all the warm fall colors of the villagers. in the live action, she gets lost in the crowd at one point. I don't remember what else didn't work with the 'Belle' sequence...

Emma Watson is usually pretty cool as a feminism activist...but she can't act. you'd also think that, having grown up on Harry Potter, she'd know how to act against a ton of green screen.
however, her smile during "Be Our Guest" was only mildly interested/amused. fake as hayle smile.
also only mildly amazed when the Beast is transforming. jfc

there are CHARACTER choices that also fall flat and/or make no sense.

the Beast not being the one to offer Belle her room removes the early sign that he has some semblance of humanity and sympathy (admittedly, imprisoning Maurice in the dungeon does somewhat negate it, but the shot of the Beast clearly feeling guilty in the animated and changing his mind about leaving her in the dungeon is pretty important).
after the West Wing scene, there wasn't an indication that he realized what he done (speaking of, the servants trying to stop her was HORRIBLE).
he lacked the realization that he wants to do something for Belle, to make her happy. the library was not an incredible gift, but a 'yeah sure you can have it whatevs'???
he's not exactly blunt about asking if she loves him. asking her to dance because she's 'the most beautiful thing [he's] ever seen' and afterwards (roughly) 'do you think you could ever care for me'. it's not subtle, and forcing an answer out of her. agreeing to dance is a sort of answer, but even she says 'I don't know'. tho kinda realistic in a way, it's pretty unfair. liiiittle bit of pressure, there.

Gaston is also reduced as a threat and a horrible person with intimidating brawn and horrific ego. I think it's a combination of the writing and the performance.
him actually helping Maurice to try and go back to the castle doesn't make sense. he believes Maurice? makes no sensssssssse and him punching Maurice and tying him up (don't ask me how; I can't put my finger on it) doesn't have the same impact of just throwing him out of the pub (don't ask me how; I can't put my finger on it).
he just doesn't feel (to me) like an actual foe to be worried about by the end of the movie.

why doesn't Maurice wake up in continued winter (and the forest disappeared???)? why doesn't he head out to find Belle again, instead of returning to the village? why do the villagers believe him? Gaston is the most respected and admired guy in the village, right? we're not sure of their regard for I don't think it makes sense for them to believe Maurice. I know it's a segue-way for the claim of insanity...

um the 'thank you's for saving each others' lives should have happened way sooner???

and finally... "how would you feel about growing a beard?" ...........UH. EW???

from a BATB fan perspective (probably a lot of nitpicking)

I was wrong about Chip knowing about oolong tea being anachronistic. I admit it! I looked it up.

it's probably just me (and my dislike of the movie in general), but the comedy fell flat a lot of the time. holy shit, the Beast actually hitting her with that massive snowball isn't funny! it's HUGE! she fell flat on her back and could have really gotten hurt!!!!!! jfc

I know it's also animated canon, but why does Belle's favorite Shakespeare have to be Romeo and Juliet...
her reading romantic passages to the Beast is also a bit heavy-handed

also, did anyone else notice that the fluttering of The Dress was partially CGed while they were dancing?

Belle is kinda...rude? when she visits the priest (a completely pointless character) to return and subsequently borrow a book, essentially says 'kthnxbye'.
when the Beast lets her go, there's no tender touch between them. just confused and torn looks which really isn't the same.
I can't remember some of the other things she said and did that rubbed me a bit wrong.

Beast's performance on 'let them come' was pretty half-hearted about the grief

shock! things i actually LIKED!!!

I love that the movie used his royal education and having read just about the whole library as a common ground with Belle; the canon with the animated movie(s) showing that the Beast is illiterate MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE.

I'm also very glad that in "Something There" that they had the "Streisand moment". in some behind the scenes stuff on...the DVD? of BATB? Paige O'Hara talked about or there was footage with Howard Ashman (I don't quite remember) where Mr. Ashman directed Ms. O'Hara to sing "alarming" with "more Streisand". meaning, that funny not-straight note. (how the hell do I describe it HAHA) (here's the moment I mean)

I do love the original songs! "Evermore" has been stuck in my head for DAYS. very a good way...??? I'm glad they got Alan Menken and Tim Rice both; Tim Rice came on to do lyrics for the animated movie after Howard Ashman passed, so it's as much of the original team as possible.
(I would have thrown a fit if they included any songs from the Disney musical. if there's any version of BATB that's Stockholm's, it's THAT. [and the Once Upon A Time version])

I do like the castle crumbling as an added symbolism to the curse, and it being particularly more focused in the West Wing.

I love that Belle and the Prince aren't the only ones dancing; it's always super awkward in princess movies when they're the only ones and everyone is just standing around looking on. (BATB, Sleeping Beauty...)

I also love that they have one sentence including the fact that the Prince is one of MANY in France, which is accurate.

I like "you have to help me; you have to stand" for some reason.

I do like that they brought back Celine Dion to do one of the credits songs, since she did the BATB song with Peabo Bryson in the animated. a nice little nod.

stuff I'm still uncertain about; let me know what you think!

not sure Belle being immediately suspicious of Lumiere and Cogsworth being the source of the voices made much sense; too on the nose?

I like the one sentence and tiny scene explaining how the Beast became a little shit, but I'm not sure how I feel about it being so on the nose with similarity to Belle and them both losing their mother. common ground and all, but...a bit on the nose with both losing their mothers?

LeFou fishing for Gaston being gay by calling him "athletically inclined" - an old, old term for being gay - was HYSTERICAL as a casual history buff. (but the whole LeFou "being gay" thing is bullshit. this article explains why better than I could.) really unsure about the villagers forgetting. on one hand, it makes a lot of sense for the castle. however, the villagers actually have connections to the servants, so they forgot families and friends... if they completely forgot, how did they not move on and make new connections, new marriages, new families?

Belle pushing back so much and being rude in return when the Beast demands she come to dinner feels pretty OOC...she was (angrily) polite in the animated, which adds an interesting facet to her character that she can react that way but still push back and refuse. I dunno...

I don't think I like Belle trying to escape...but I'm not sure. she stayed in the animated because she's keeping her promise. when she's fleeing after the West Wing scene, she says "promise or no promise", which again speaks to her sense of honor. so...yeah. not sure how I feel about her trying to escape in the live action.

I think I like the prolonged time of care after the wolves, since it impresses upon the audience that she really did save his life (instead of just some scratch across his arm), but that part where he's shirtless...wasn't that considered "naked" at the time??? (my Google-fu sucks and I can't find any historical article confirming or denying)

it also feels weird that villagers are directly mean to her. that hints a bit of bullying rather than isolation. not sure if want.

I can't tell if I feel it's overkill that Gaston shot the Beast three times, or if I feel it makes it more legitimate and believable that the Beast is dying that quickly. (his wound in the animated would be a prolonged, painful death)

(a little girl a few rows ahead of me was repeatedly going "KISS KISS KISS" after the ball. CUTE. [it would be a hairy kiss tho haha])

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