Beauty and the Beast: Auto Tuned, Anthropologie Throw Up, and Nostalgia

I just saw the new Beauty and the Beast movie.  My thoughts, I liked it but Emma Watson was so auto tuned it wasn’t even funny.

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That’s it in a general sense.  I mean, obviously I’m going to say a little more say since this is a  review (and recommendation of YA retellings) but I did enjoy it if I didn’t think about it and wasn’t being all nit picky.

The Disney version is probably my favorite animated movies and I saw the Broadway version every time it visited Houston when I grew up-which was a lot (save for the premiere-yes, it premiered in Houston). So, when I heard that the songs were going to be included in the film I was extremely excited.

Only thing, Emma Watson can’t sing.  They auto tuned the hell out of her.  I get she’s Hermione and that equals instant Belle, but if she can’t sing dub her.  They did that a lot of times in the past (see: My Fair Lady) and it was for the better.  It was just really disturbing hearing these songs arranged in a slightly different way to accommodate Emma’s not so great vocals.  Also, new songs not a huge fan of them.  I was hoping they’d use some of the Broadway show’s song. I did hear some orchestration of “Home” but I was also hoping they’d use some of the songs like “Human Again” and ” Me” for example.  There were others as well, like the “If I Can’t Love Her” (AKA the Beast’s ballad) that they simply revamped into news songs and I was like-what, you had a good song to use already.

That is me being ultra picky and I know there’s a lot of different factors why they might’ve chose to use new songs and arrangements BUT…those songs were good.

I will give Luke Evans credit though, I think he did Gaston justice.  He was entertaining and I thought he did a fairly good job performing.  I also liked watching t him and Hugh Jackman having a Gaston sing off because….Gaston sing off and I was reminded that Hugh did the Australian show version of Beauty and the Beast and yeah….

Matthew Crawley was surprisingly not a bad Beast either.  Though, it’s still weird thinking that Matthew Crawley was transformed into a beast (and they still don’t give us the Prince’s name so the purposes of this review I’m calling him Matthew Crawley, though I think the Disney Wikia list it as Adam) .  I thought Lady Mary if any of them would’ve been the one turned into a monster for being rude to poor Lady Edith (who is so a wannabe Enchantress if there ever was one) .   But that wasn’t as weird enough,  seeing him wear  an obscene amount of eyes shadow, high heeled shoes, and powdered wig.

Oh yeah, the movie decided to go heavy with the period costumes which made me blanch because we all know the French Revolution happens soon after the movie and…

Well…

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Though the really weird thing about the period costumes is they seemed mostly constrained to Matthew Crawley and the Downton Castle servants.  Belle seemed to be wearing some sort of Free People inspired version of Beauty and the Beast wear that was very inappropriate for the time period-really, Disney was it necessary to see her bloomers?  And that end dress really looked like one of my Anthro folding chairs  being made  into a ballgown (shudders at the thought).

But then we get to the yellow dress…which there are cosplayers outfits out there that did a better job. Hell, even Belle’s cheap ass dress of Once Upon a Time looked better.  Hell, both Belle and Rumple’s Beauty and the Beast inspired getup looks better.

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Yes, they look better.  Freaking Belle from OUAT who mostly dresses like she’s constantly in a Sexy! Schoolgirl costume (yes, the costume department is that bad when dresses her) on the show has a better ballgown that Hermione-Belle.

The CGI was pretty God awful too.  But I’m not a fan of CGI in general so I’m just going to live it there.

For all the nitpicking I’m doing though, I did enjoy it.  Those two hours in the theater reminded me why I love this story so much it has everything: curses, magic, books, redemption, dancing, ball gowns (though fugly ballgowns in this version), crazy villagers who act like Middle America did this election (seriously, “The Mob Song (Kill the Beast)” is pretty much is Republican fear mongering in song form and Gaston is how Donald Trump thinks he looks) , and Kevin Kline).

Yes, Kevin Kline.  I think he’s the first person who actually made me like Maurice so props to you, Otto.

If you want to watch something that brings back childhood nostalgia I recommend seeing this one.  Is it perfect-no.  BUT I do think they kept the spirit of the original there.  So if you can get past some bad auto tuning, Anthropologie chair dresses, and Matthew Crawley in heavy makeup you’ll like this one.  Though to be honest, I probably really had wanted to see it had Lady Mary been the one turned into a beast (ppssss, Michelle Dockery can actually sing yall so maybe they could’ve gone there).

Overall Rating: B+
Now since this is technically a book review I thought I’d list some Beauty and the Beast retellings you might want to check out if the factors I mentioned are too much for you to want to see the movie or if you got hives from seeing Matthew Crawley in a wig:

  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge:  Take Greek mythology and have one very bitter Belle and you get a very interesting retelling.  Bonus points, for quasi evil Belle.  I like how flawed the MC is here.  I always list this as one of my favorite YA B&B retellings that I read there’s a reason.
  • Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay: I really like the underlying lesson in this that has you questioning what exactly is beauty.  Both characters undergo a transformation which is sweet to read about.
  • Hunted by Meagan Spooner:  I liked that this one grasps with one of the biggest issues I had with the original animated movie-wanting more.  The chemistry between the two characters isn’t as great as some other retellings, but it is a fun one to read.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas: I was on the fence about putting this one on here because after the sequel I really don’t view it so much as a B&B retelling.  BUT I think you could make the argument that we just didn’t know who the beast was in the first book.  I am planning on rereading the first two books in the series before the third one comes out so we’ll see.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik: I would say this one is more Beauty and the Beast inspired than a direct retelling but still fun.
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Super Slow Start But Overall Good: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

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Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Source: GoodReads

The Beauty and the Beast remake came out this week (haven’t seen it yet, but I’m hoping to next week) so of course a YA retelling of the fairytale had to come out around the same time.

To be fair to Spooner though, there’s a lot of YA B&B retellings.  I think there’s just something about the fairytale that begs itself to be retold.  Perhaps, it’s the whole fact that author’s keep trying to explain why this fairytale about Stockholm syndrome is romantic even though it really shouldn’t be.  Regardless, it’s a perennial favorite of YA authors everywhere and Spooner’s retelling adds nicely to the collection of retellings out there but it’s not perfect.

The biggest problem is the first third of this book.  Oh, God, it is slow.  So freaking slow.  I almost DNF’d it.  That’s how slow it is, but I kept pressing on.  I don’t know what compelled me to, but I’m glad I did.  Once the book gets started its good.

Not great, but good and I did enjoy it.  Spooner has an interesting twist on the story.  One I’m glad that is addressed because the whole “more” aspect of the movie always did annoy me.

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Here, though it’s a fundamental part of the story affecting Beast and Beauty and I’m glad it had a point in the story, besides being just a way Beauty views herself as an outsider.

I also liked the atmosphere that Spooner created.  I really felt like the world was unique, and I later learnt was inspired by some Russian fairytales which I was unfamiliar with.  It worked really well.

As far as Beauty’s relationship with the Beast in this one I was sort of meh about.  Sure, it’s the familiar love story but the chemistry never reached the levels that some other YA retellings-I’m thinking of Cruel Beauty and ACOTR and even Uprooted.  Honestly, I really didn’t feel the romantic tension between the two characters for most of the book and instead thought how unhealthy the relationship was.

Never a good thing, but still there are far worse YA couples out there.  And for what it is worth the twists that Spooner added to the story almost remedied the awkwardness of the ship and the bad beginning.

So overall, while there were some neat things about Hunted it is hardly the best YA adaptation of Beauty and the Beast out there.  Still, if you are a Beauty and the Beast fan and/or want to look at a retelling with an interesting twist, you might want to give this one a try.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

 

Synergy Sells: As Old as Time by Liz Braswell

What if Belle’s mother cursed the Beast?

Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her father’s reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belle’s mother returns–a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern.

But Belle touches the Beast’s enchanted rose, intriguing images flood her mind–images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making.

Souce: GoodReads

I was less than impressed with Braswell’s A Whole New World and was content on just forgoing her obvious pandering to Disney synergy series when I saw As Old as Time‘s premises and then I was like.

Need this.

Because Beauty and the Beast and the twist looked actually interesting.  And besides, surely after two books with poor reviews, surely Braswell was able to pick up some pointers on what was going wrong with the synergy pandering series.  Obviously, I was wrong.  The same habits that made A Whole New World  a hot mess, were included in As Old as Time including the whole let’s quote the movie.

Note, I had to wonder how it was possible to regurgitate an eighty minute movie’s script in 400 pages but oh-the twist, oh the twist is that we’ll include Maurice’s romance with Belle’s mother who’s the Enchantress.

Yes, Maurice.

The bumbling absentminded idiot of a father of Belle’s who gets together with Mrs. Potts at the movie.

Well, at least I think they get together.  It’s in my head cannon anyway.  But when I think of romance with Maurice unless it involves Mrs. Potts it’s a no go.

And yes, I know that cannon assumes that Belle’s mother must’ve been a pretty hot number given the fact that Maurice is…well, Maurice and everyone in town sings about Belle who looks nothing like Maurice.  But the Enchantress?????

It’s not like it’s even explained that well in the alternating chapters where I’m supposed to ship Enchantress/Maurice.

It just doesn’t work.  Much like the fact I’m supposed to like a woman who cursed an eleven year old spoiled little boy and then…well, then regurgitate the screenplay which while simple enough in it’s Disney form was enjoyable because you know great voice actors/animation  and Alan Menken songs.  Not so much here.

The characters are extremely flat.  And it’s not the story.  The story has been retold many times in YA before.  Sure, those versions aren’t based on the Disney movie, but that shouldn’t really matter.  At the core the book was a retelling of a fairytale and while Braswell was using the Disney movie as a template there were plenty of jumping off points  that could’ve made the story interesting.

But to focus half of the book on Maurice??????

Really, Maurice.

I feel bad for all you Potts/Maurice shippers that’s for sure (surely, there have to be some) As for me, I am not planning on touching this series with a ten foot pole ever again.  It doesn’t matter what movie they decide to retell.  Although, I did accidentally grab buy Once which I didn’t realize was by Braswell until it was too late so….

You know, I could just give that book away.  Yeah, that’s how annoyed I am with this author’s writing.

Overall Rating: DNF.

This Book is Awesome: A Court of Thorns and Roses Sarah J Mass

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Source: GoodReads

Probably one of my favorites so far this year.

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Well, that’s a way to start a review.

But this book…

I will be fangilring a lot in this review and that’s not like me, but this book was just so wonderful.  Yes, it had some faults.  But I think the faults worked with the book and it really was so magical, wonderful, sensual, and ridiculously sexy and…

Belle

I’m in love.

Which surprised me since I wasn’t a huge fan of Throne of Glass.  I never got the hype of that series (I’ve only read one book), but it really is wonderful.

I know, that I said that Cruel Beauty is probably my favorite YA retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but this book beats it.  And it involves fae and I’m normally not a fae person.  But the way that Mass immerses the reader slowly into the fae world, it really works.

To where I dare say it, I sort of want to give fae in general another chance.

I’ll probably be taking things slow.

But I will definitely be reading this book’s sequel.

Yes, sequel.

It has a sequel.

Or will.  And I oddly want one, even though you’d think that a Beauty and the Beast retelling would be squeezed into one book.

And well, yeah, the fairytale aspect sort of was done in this installment but there’s so much more to explore.

I think one of my favorite things about this book was its characters.  I loved almost all of the characters in this book.  The leads were developed.  Even though Feyre got on my nerves at times, Mass at least addressed the fact that she was annoying.

And the men in this book.

Fans self.

I want them all.

Give them to me.

Tamlin was the perfect dark mysterious lord of the manor-or high lord if you want to get techical.  The character sort of has that whole Darcy growing effect on you.

And then there’s Lucien who is just downright delicious, especially since he’s firmly in non-romantic zone.  And I really liked that in the book.

And then there’s Rhys.

I am surprised with how much I like Rhys in the dark and creepy type of way.  He’s a character I really can’t wait to see what Mass does in future installments.

The villainess in this installment was positively bat shit insane evil and I loved her because she was just so evil.  Really, the last third of the book is such a departure from the first two thirds.  While the first two thirds of the novel works on relationship building and character building, things totally pick up towards the end.  The book went from feeling seductive and sensual, to being over the top filled with intense action.

It has a little bit of everything in it.

As I said before, if I had to pick on anything if would be Feyre’s sometime stupidity.  I like the fact it’s addressed though, rather than pushed under the rug.  And she’s not stating to be the world’s greatest assassin  so there’s a plus for her there.

The action, again is somewhat similar to Throne of Glass too, but there’s enough differences there where Crown of Thorns and Roses is truly its own.

Overall Rating: An A. Very, very, enjoyable.