Tag Archives: Musical

Review: Beauty and the Beast

batb poster
via Pop Sugar

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

PG / 129 mins.

Family / Fantasy / Musical

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans

Director: Bill Condon

When the adaptation of the classic Disney animated musical Beauty and the Beast was first announced I was instantly sold.  Not only was Beauty and the Beast released during Disney’s golden era of musicals, but the remake was set to star Emma Watson as Belle, the musical’s lead lady.  When you add in the fact that it was being directed by Bill Condon (of Dreamgirls and Chicago fame), it did not take much more for the remake to become a must-watch for me.  Now that the movie, a tale as old as time, has finally arrived, I can report that the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast has met my expectations, delivering an experience more magical than the original.

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via Digital Spy

If you have watched the original, then the remake should have you feeling right at home.  Aside from a few minor changes, the remake walks in lock step with the source material.  The Beast, played by Dan Stevens, is still under a curse that has trapped him in his own castle as a monstrous beast and his friends as a collection of inanimate objects.  He is still in search of someone who will love him before the last petal of his rose withers away.  Belle is still the young woman who, after going to search for her father, finds herself a prisoner in the Beast’s forgotten castle and soon begins to fall in love with the beast himself.  The rest is history.  It is still an endearing tale, only made better by the fact that Belle is not a damsel in distress this time around.  By Emma Watson’s demand, Belle is a more intelligent and capable character.  She is an independent and bookish woman, who will most likely act as an inspiration for a generation of young fans for years to come.

It is obvious that Emma Watson’s performance serves as the seat-filler, but the rest of the performances compliment her well.  Dan Stevens plays a good Beast, who shows both a beastly side as well as a charming side in his performance.  I think both him and Emma worked well together.  Then there are everybody’s favorite talking objects, Lumiere and Cogsworth, played by Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellan respectively.  The two acts as the comic relief throughout the entire movie and share some of the movie’s best moments.  Gaston, the narcissistic and charming antagonist played by Luke Evans, also does a wonderful job with his role.  He is even better than the original in that he starts off as a rather harmless goof and then quickly turns into a terrifying figure blinded by rage in the end.  It is still a fun character arch to watch develop onscreen.

via Gamespot

Emma Watson not only plays a good Belle, but it also turns out that she has a great voice as well.  Her performances, especially her opening number “Belle,” show off her great musical talent.  There were times where it seemed like her voice was digitally enhanced or modified, but it never felt too egregious.  The rest of the songs are just as great as the original classics.  Some songs have modified lyrics to fit the story while some songs are completely new.  While I don’t know how I feel about the modified lyrics, they never go too overboard with it.  Songs like “Beauty and the Beast” performed by Emma Thompson (who plays Mrs. Potts) and “Be Our Guest” sung by Lumiere and the rest of the castle crew feel livelier this time around and they will surely bring back some nostalgic memories.

The biggest differentiator (if it was not apparent already) is that the remake is live action.  CGI is the name of the game and it is well done in this movie, for the most part.  Lumiere and Cogsworth, as well as the rest of the castle objects, look amazing in CGI.  They are more fluid and move around with ease.  Mrs. Potts might look a bit creepy, though.  (What is even creepier is her Funko Pop figure) Then there is the Beast, who looked a little too rigid.  His movement did not feel natural which was especially evident in scenes like the ballroom dance.  CGI aside, there are some very nice looking shots throughout the movie.  It is a colorful film that is really pleasing to the eye.  There was some great cinematography that brilliantly captured the picturesque beauty of the original.

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via ComicBook.com

While it might not be a popular opinion to most, I think that the adaption easily surmounts the original Beauty and the Beast, despite some of its technical issues regarding the Beast and some pacing issues in its story.  I really enjoyed the original movie, but I do not highly regard it as some do.  In my opinion, the original provides a good backbone while the adaptation takes the story and runs with it, filling it with more energy and magic.  While it might not seem instantly apparent, there are going to be a new generation of kids that look at the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast and they are going to view it as the definitive version.  While this might seem like a bonkers idea, it is not necessarily a terrible thing.

batb score


Review: Hail, Caesar!

hail caesar poster
via in10words.wordpress.com

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

PG13 / 106 min

Comedy / Drama / Musical

Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich

Directors: Ethan and Joel Coen

The golden age of filmmaking was an exciting time for the motion picture industry in America.  The industry was one of the most visible industries in America, with the average citizen attending a movie at least once per week.  With their most recent film, brothers Joel and Ethan Coen pen a love letter to this golden era of Hollywood in the form of Hail, Caesar!

hail caesar 1
via Firewire Blog

What put this movie on my radar however was the star-studded cast that is sprinkled throughout the film.  Caesar! is a fictional tale about the real-life high-profile movie studio “fixer” Eddie Mannix, played by Josh Brolin.  Being one of the studio heads for Capitol Pictures is a tough job, being compared at one point to running a full-scale “circus.”  One of the more pressing matters thrown Mannix’s way is the kidnapping of the studio’s highly proclaimed actor Baird Whitlock, played by George Clooney.

Other stars that can be found in the film include Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum.  Most of the cast doesn’t get the screen time that you would hope, but they all give great performances that are all great in their own regards.  Perhaps the one actor that steals the show is Alden Ehrenreich, who plays the hootin’ and hollerin’ singing western star, Hobie Doyle.

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via Tribute

Caesar! pretty much features everything you would want from a movie set 50’s Hollywood.  The main movie production that is featured in the movie is Capitol Records’ “Hail, Caesar!”  There’s also a western, a grandiose swimming routine, a dancing sailor movie, and a highly affluent drama being filmed in the movie.  Caesar! contains a healthy dose of Hollywood meta-humor and often pokes fun at the many different aspects of filmmaking.  Sometimes the movie’s wry humor won’t hit with everyone, but its smart and intelligent and maintains the classic Coen Brother’s wit that you have come to expect.

Despite the monstrous cast and attention to detail, the story unfortunately doesn’t keep up, essentially amounting to nothing by the time the credits roll.  There’s a lot going on during the course of the movie’s run-time and it sometimes proves tedious trying to lace all the different story lines together.  The kidnapping of actor Baird Whitlock is the primary focus of the movie, but that whole plot point doesn’t really go anywhere or reach a satisfying conclusion.  They manage to poke some fun at communism, but that’s about it.  I wasn’t expecting much from the film in terms of story, but it would have been nice to have something to grasp onto.

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via Flavorwire

It’s a shame the story is a big negative, because everything else about the movie is fantastic, including the classic Coen Brothers cinematography.  The directorial duo has given us a lot of great movies in the past with some excellent direction, and this movie is no different.  Every aspect of Hail, Caesar! is brilliantly put together and everything works really well together.  It was a fun movie to watch, chock full of loving detail and tribute, making the underwhelming story a little easier to stomach.

It’s hard to say that Hail, Caesar! ranks high in the Coen Brothers filmography, but it’s a solid and enjoyable ode to the golden era of Hollywood.  Everything from the tight and well-oiled cinematography to the expertly casted actors and actresses make this movie a real treat.  If the story amounted to something more, then maybe this movie would be a lot higher on the totem pole of Coen Brothers movies.  It’s hard to be too disappointed though, because man this movie just made me smile.

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