Beauty and the Beast Film Review

Disney continues to pull the “Let’s Make It Live-Action” lever…

This time, it’s one of the films of the Disney Renaissance in the 90s.

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After Alice in WonderlandCinderella, Maleficent, and The Jungle Book, Disney hires director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls, and …strangely… the last two Twilight movies) to helm the live-action remake of the 1991 classic Beauty and the Beast. With an ensemble featuring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in starring roles and Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Josh Gad, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson, and Ian McKellen in supporting roles, the 2017 version has a lot to live up to from its 1991 older brother.

The film follows 90% of the 1991 film. Honestly, I won’t tell it anymore because the story is such a classic.

One of the things I like about the film is that it added/fixed some plot questions/blunders/scenes from the original 1991 version. How come the villagers have no idea of their former rulers? Why are the pieces of furniture still friendly to Beast? LeFou’s character development is a welcome addition. Whether or not his sexuality affected his character arc/film itself is not important (at least for me). Also, the addition of his line in The Mob Song just made both LeFou and the song better.

Of course, Emma Watson and Dan Stevens gave their all. Emma Watson is truly a beauty in this film (you know… Belle), and Dan Stevens managed to give us a voice that is almost similar to the 1991 version (credits to the post-production team too). The chemistry between the two is very evident. The tandem of Lumiere and Cogsworth (Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen, respectively) feels so natural.

The songs were phenomenal as well. As I said, this remake will be heavily compared to its 1991 version, which won multiple awards (ie. songs and score). New lines were added; new songs were introduced. All of it went seamlessly, and we are lucky to listen.

I have three issues with the film though. First, there are some scenes which the green screen is VERY obvious. It takes away the magic of the moment. Second, the character of Agathe the Enchantress (Hattioe Morahan) is really unnecessary. I mean, obviously the first scene is important, but the rest of her scenes can be removed and it would not affect the plot at all. Lastly, the fight between Gaston (Luke Evans) and Beast was better in the 1991 version. The 2017 fight was too short and did not feel personal at all. In the 1991 version, you feel Gaston digesting every moment he bludgeons Beast. 2017 Gaston using a gun doesn’t work for me. When you saw 1991 Gaston stab Beast deeply, you truly feel his obsession.

Beauty and the Beast captured the essence of the 1991 original. It has great performances from all of the cast, but it is simply a live-adaptation remake of a 1991 animated film that is debatably better. So… this film is…

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La La Land Film Review

There was a time when musicals ruled Hollywood. This film reminds us of the greatness of that era.

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Director Damien Chazelle, who gave us 2014’s Whiplash, one of the greatest films of that year, now gives us another music-heavy film with a lot of comedy, drama, nostalgia, and of course a great soundtrack.

The film centers around the relationship between Mia (Emma Stone), a barista by day and struggling artist by day and night, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist who dreams to own a club. Conflicts rise when they realize that to achieve a successful future means to sacrifice precious things in the present.

Holy nostalgia! I love this film! Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and Donald O’Connor would be proud. The title sequence itself is a big shout-out to the musical of the 40s and 50s (or the entire genre in general). The film felt like a treasure hidden from a time capsule from an era almost forgotten… a time when the actors should really have talent! The Epilogue scene reminds of The Broadway Melody Ballet featured in Singin’ in the Rain.

SPOILER ALERT!

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have such great chemistry together. One feels the relationship build and crumble as the film progresses. We love it when they achieve the smallest success, and we empathize when they stumble on obstacles.

Of course, the third character of the film is its soundtrack/music. It’s quite rare for a modern musical to transition itself from a dialogue-scene to a singing-scene. And the fact that it manages to hook such an emotion from the viewers… Mia and Sebastian’s Theme, anyone?

And the great thing about La La Land is that it does not shy away from the harsh realities of life. There is no “Everything Will Turn Out Right” button. We choose what happens to us. We are responsible to our lives. You want to achieve your dream? There’s a price, and it’s not cheap.

La La Land hits all the notes. Just like Sebastian’s passionate speech about jazz, it is only by watching, listening, and digesting this film can one truly experience its greatness. This film is definitely…

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Sing Film Review

The director of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the production company that gave us The Secret Life of Pets combine forces for an animated musical. This is a “hit or miss” situation.

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Let’s face it. The Secret Life of Pets, another 2016 animated animal-based movie from Illumination Entertainment, was ultimately disappointing. So when Sing premiered, one might have the notion that it would be just another kids movie. Fortunately, that is not the case.

Realizing his theater is on the verge of foreclosure, optimistic  Buster Moon the Koala (Matthew McConaughey) starts a singing competition and promises $100 000 to the winner. Dozens of animals auditioned, including pigs Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) and Gunter (Nick Kroll), self-centered Mike the Rat (Seth MacFarlene), rocker Ash the Porcupine (Scarlett Johansson), shy Meena the Elephant (Tori Kelly), and reluctant criminal Johnny the Gorilla (Taron Egerton). There is only one problem with the competition… there is no $100 000!

It is just so nice to hear these actors… well … sing! MacFarlene has regularly shown us his singing chops in Family Guy; Johansson, Egerton, and Witherspoon teased us in 2016’s Jungle Book, Eddie the Eagle, and 2005’s Walk the Line, respectively; and Kelly is an American Idol alumnus. Because of the expected (and surprising) singing talent, the climax of the film delivered in all levels.

Also, each character’s personal narrative was given enough screen time to let us know them. These are not just a bunch of individuals grouped together just to sing. They have separate lives, and the singing competition added (or removed) something to it.

The visuals and character designs were stunning. The squid scenes, for example, burst with colors!

The only negative thing I can think about this film is that it is a story we have seen countless times, conflicts we have seen over and over again, and resolutions that have become a cliche. But the film managed to be a feel-good one, and everything enters the Entertaining Zone once the music starts hitting.

Sing delivered what is expected from a musical. Despite having an overdone story, it has such a superb voice-acting and singing from its cast, colorful visuals, and laughs the entire family will enjoy. Because of this, this is definitely a…

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