Beauty and the Beast (2017)

A bookish young woman is captured by an enchanted prince. Only love can break the spell that transformed him into a beast – and his servants into various household objects. A tale as old as time, the song says – and sure enough, here we’ve got a pretty straight retelling of the 1991 Disney animation, although this time with real actors.

To be honest, while I do think this was a good updating – a few story elements are brushed up a little, and Belle is a bit more feisty – and I’m aware of quite a few people really loving it, if anything I was just a tad disappointed. Then again, I wasn’t quite the right age to totally adore the original either, so maybe that’s a factor.

The first issue I had is the cast. Emma Watson isn’t a favourite of mine anyway, and I’m not the only one who found her surprisingly wooden in this. So many times the expression on her face was disgust instead of fear, or fear instead something more complex. And while she has a sweet enough singing voice, it really lacks any oomph necessary for this role, and the technical shenanigans to get ’round that become a little too obvious.

It doesn’t help that her co-star is a CGI monstrosity, and I don’t mean that in a particularly good way. With modern tech, I think I’ve just come to expect something… better. Likewise with the supporting cast, all voiced well enough by the likes of Sir Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson, and Ewan McGregor, but I just felt the CGI lacked a bit of charm at times, or just couldn’t sit entirely comfortably in a ‘live’ setting.

The only cast member I did wholly like was Luke Evans as Gaston – he looked made for the role, and has quite the set of lungs on him! Of course, when you’re left only really liking the baddie of the piece… urm…! o_O

Which is a lot of complaining for a movie I’m about to rate 7/10, and to be honest it wasn’t all that bad – just, as I said, a little disappointing for me. On the plus side, it looks lovely, and the filmmakers took the wise choice to add to the familiar songs, rather than start over, so there was a lot of toe tapping smiles. If the story felt a little bloated in the expansion for me, I’ll bow out gracefully as not exactly being the target audience – new, or nostalgia-led.

If you do enjoy this, you might be pleased to know that live-action remakes are being talked about for all sorts of other Disney classics, including Aladdin, Dumbo, and The Lion King! (you can read more on Cineworld‘s blog).

Released: 17th March
Viewed: 25th March 2017
Running time: 129 minutes
Rated: PG

My rating: 7/10

La La Land (2016)

There is so much buzz around about this movie that of course I had to see it for myself – and to be honest, I thought it was just ‘okay’.

Mia (Emma Stone) is a struggling actress, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) a struggling musician and jazz nut. As their lives start to intersect, how will their relationship interact with chasing their respective dreams? And more to the point, how will the film makers add in the song and dance routines? 🙂

The opening is full-on musical: everyone – wearing primary colours, of course! – getting out of their cars in a traffic jam to do a perfectly choreographed ‘spontaneous’ routine. It was cheesy as anything – and I had such a huge smile on my face. Things continue like that for a little while, interspersed with a more normally played-out plot line, but then the musicality ebbs as the drama increases.

While this disappointed me, it actually pleased one of my viewing companions, relieved to lose the cheese factor. So, tastes do of course vary! But my preference was definitely for the kitch, the reminders of the golden age of musicals such as Singing in the Rain. I guess the slow veer into a more modern ‘realism’ was half the point though, given how it’s reflected in the plot line of Seb’s quest to ‘save jazz’.

Overall, it’s not that I didn’t like this film – because I did, quite a lot – but it sort of failed to live up to expectations for me, built both from the hype and the opening tone before it all changes a bit. True, it makes for a more mature film than I’d expect from Hollywood or the musical genre, but while it is very clearly a much, MUCH better movie than the likes of, say, Mamma Mia, for me it lost some of the fun that would make me watch it over and over.

Released: 12th January 2017
Viewed: 13th January 2017
Running time: 128 minutes
Rated: 12A (for a little bit of swearing)

My rating: 8/10 – it’s good, but possibly not worth ALL the hype!