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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A Tale of DNF: The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that’s been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon’s eye: the key to true darkness and the villains’ only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it…who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent’s daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon’s eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie, doesn’t know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she’s a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal’s little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he’s not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon’s eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil’s son may not be bravest, but he’s certainly clever. Carlos’s inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon’s eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon’s eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the dragon’s eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.

Source: GoodReads

Once upon a time, I DNF’d a book after fifty pages.  I had said book in my shelves for month dreading at the possible cringing that would happen when I would get the guts to read it and when I did.  Surprise, surprise, I cringed and cringed  and ended up throwing it in the storage box when I was done.  Rolling my eyes and saying…

But on the other hand, yay, more space in my bookshelf.

When I preordered this book way back at the end of 2014 I had no idea it was a tie in to a Disney Chanel movie or middle grade novel.  If I had known one of these two things I probably wouldn’t have even bothered.

Full disclosure made, I haven’t watched and don’t really have any intention of watching the Disney movie to this mess.  I figure it’s more synergy pandering which just will make my eyes roll to the point where I’ll get a migraine.

Please, no thanks.

Sometimes synergy can be okay when it’s done in a smart way.  Like the early seasons of Once Upon a Time, the way they weaved the fairytales in and out of their fairytales were cleaver at least until season 4 when there was blatant Frozen pandering.  But even that wasn’t as bad as this.

And at least Once isn’t outright sequel-ing DIsney cannon and getting details wrong like Melissa de la Cruz did.

Really, Melissa, would it have killed you to Disney Wiki Sleeping Beauty to learn that Aurora pricked her finger on her 16th not 18th birthday?

Then I forget this is the same woman that contradicted herself about five thousand times in her most popular series.

In addition to blatant product placement and poor continuity, I could not stand this book because it seemed to talk down to its audience.  Its a common problem with a lot of middle grade books out there, but some authors avoid this problem like Meg Cabot whose Princess Diaries series is actually charming.

de la Cruz doesn’t avoid the problem and I think part of the issue with this book for me is that the characters seem to be technically more YA age than middle grade.  So the talking down too really became grating.

In the end, I didn’t try to stomach this.  I just couldn’t deal with all the cringing.  I can feel okay with throwing this into my storage/giveaway box now.  I tried it.  Unfortunately, it was about as squirm inducing as I thought it was.  Leave the synergy, Disney to Once Upon a Time, even though that season finale was painful at least the show on a whole tries (or used to) be creative with their product placement.

Overall Rating: A DNF.  I don’t think it was a subjective DNF either.  The writing was really painful.  I am really going to have to review the Blue Bloods series at some point to see if I have grown as a reader because this book in general made me really question de la Cruz’s writing skills.

Someday My Prince Will Come: Disney Princes Pick Out Your Next Read

So, Disney princes.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a crush on one…

I thought so.  I thought it was only fitting that since animated guys were probably one of the first fictional guy crushes that many people have it would be only fitting to use these characters to help decide what YA book you should choose based on your favorite Disney prince.   Note, some of the newer princes-notably, Flynn and Naveen- are excluded from this list because I haven’t seen their respective movies (I’m an idiot, I know.  But hey, I’m a law student.  I hardly ever go out to the movies).

So without further ado it’s time to for Disney Prince/YA book mash up.

1) Aladdin: I really like Aladdin.  Probably because he is a diamond in the rough.  Though I wouldn’t put him in this spot if Dimitri from Anastasia was a Disney prince.  These guys are pretty similar though, but I give prefer Dimitri to Aladdin mainly because of his choice in fashion.  God, what is it with that stupid purple vest.  Thank God, there’s a makeover scene in the movie.  Okay, fashion choices aside I love how gray of a character Aladdin is.  He’s even somewhat snarky for a Disney prince.  So, props there.

YA Comparisons:

Daemon Black (Lux series by Jennifer L Armentrout): Daemon Black acts a lot like Aladdin.  He’s a big flirt, he’s always trying to avoid governmental agencies that are slightly corrupt, he lies to his girlfriend to the point she gets annoyed with him, but he’s still hot.  However, I don’t think there’s a purple vest there and that’s probably a good thing.

Kingsley Martin (Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz): Kingsley is a bit of a bad boy in a good way, like Aladdin.  But with fashion sense (yes, I know I keep mentioning that purple vest, but really Disney what were you thinking).  Plus, thinking of Aladdin and thinking of Kingsley makes me wonder what Kingsley would wish for.  I’m thinking he’d probably manage to outwit the whole three wishes rule.  So, maybe he has one up on Aladdin.

Cole (Everneath by Brodi Ashton): Okay, so he should be on a villian list.  But this character has some great one liners.  And God knows, he is a good con man.  If the other guy in this quasi triangle wasn’t so perfect I might really want him and Nikki to be together.  Plus, he has a sad backstory like Aladdin too.  But no purple vest.  So there you go.

2)  Prince Phillip: Prince Phillip, what do I say but he’s probably the hottest out of Disney insta love guys.  That and he’s actually the most developed too.  Though not through dialogue which is a shame.  He’s awesome in the action sequences though.  And really if he had a bit more development, maybe he could give Eric a run for his money.  In all honesty though, I think Phillip emphasizes why some people find insta love so…so awe worthy.  He’s hot and cute and does brave things that it makes you almost forgive the fact he feel in love with a girl just because she was pretty and the animals liked her.

 

YA Comparisons:

Edward Cullen (The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer): You know there are actual Youtube videos that feature a montage of Bella and Edward to the “Beauty and the Beast” (trust me, I was unfortunate enough to come across one when I was looking for Phoebe and Cole montages).  However, I think they’re relationship is much more like the one in Sleeping Beauty than Beauty and the Beast.  Considering the fact that they declare their undying devotion for each other before their first date and Edward tends to have to rescue Bella every other second.  You know even though he’s animated, I still think Prince Phillip is hotter than Edward.  Plus, I think his relationship with Aurora is more developed.  At least they sing together.  What do Bella and Edward do, stare?

Xavier Woods (Halo Trilogy by Alexandra Adornetto): You probably knew this one was coming whenever I think of insta love I think of Huggie Bear.  And you know what, if you like insta love Halo might be your thing.  The character development is very little to none, the romance is over the top.  But it does sort of read like an old Disney movie.  Of course, I think Prince Phillip is a lot more tolerable than Huggle Wuggles will ever be.  But I think that’s what Adornetto was striving for, a Disney character.  Because let’s face it most of our ideals of love come form Disney (at least if your parents raised you on a G filled animated film diet growing up).

Alec (Fateful by Claudia Gray): Alec is deliciously cliche.  Honestly, I feel like relationships on the Titanic are like the new Disney princes.  Do you know not only one but two animated movie versions of the Titanic were made after the James Cameron productions.  Both of them crappy on various levels-one even sequel that involves Atlantis, don’t ask.  I sort of see this book like those movies, but less cringe worthy.  The hero, Alec, equates to Prince Phillip in the fact that he falls in love with this girl with very little push or care and then the whole book is about her being a damsel on distress on a boat headed for doomed.  Unlike Twilight or Halo though, there’s an odd place for this one in my heart.  I think maybe because I enjoy its cheese and it doesn’t take itself that seriously. However, Prince Phillip is still hotter than Alec.

3) The Beast: The Beast is where I think we book girls get our love for bad boys.  I don’t know about you, but I always identified with Belle when it came to Disney princesses.  Maybe because I’m sort of like her when it comes to books and I would love to have a montage whenever I walked to town.  Of course, my name really wouldn’t translate well into song but…digressing.  While I might identify with Belle the most, the Beast is another story.  I really did not like this character at first.  He reminds me of all those cruddy YA protagonist.  Of course, when I was four that really didn’t seem to matter much.  More or less the character scared me.  But with age and the broadway show (where the prince looked way better than the drawing) he grew on me.  I think what makes this guy one to salivate over is that he really did  repent.  Unlike, so many….well, you’ll see when I list them.

YA Comparisons:

John (from Meg Cabot’s Abandon): Cabot I’m pretty sure loves Beauty and the Beast or I know that Mia loved Beauty and the Beast since she was always going on about it in those diary entries of hers.  It’s not surprising that one of her series could be comparable to the film.  I sort of see Abandon as that series.  Actually, I wonder if the whole Persephone tale could be some how connected to the origins of the fairytale, but that’s not what this blog entry is about.  I chose this book because I think John is a redeemable bad boy much like The Beast is.  God, did he frustrate and infuriate me in the first book but he really is mellowing out much like the beast.

Jace (from Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments): Okay, so this one hasn’t mellowed out exactly.  But Jace Whatever He’s Going By does remind me a lot of the Beast.  He’s moody, lashes out, probably breaks his toys too.  And yeah, I know he’s really more like Draco Malfoy than the Beast.  But this is about Disney characters.  And I can honestly see people who like the Beast liking Jace.  He can be a pretty scary character and he has made a few dumb choices in his life.

Tucker Avery (Unearthly Trilogy by Cynthia Hand): No, he’s not a monster.  But Clara and Tucker’s relationship is a lot like the Beast and Belle’s.  They don’t really like each other at first and Tucker is outright rude to her.  Grant it, he’s not a quote, quote bad boy.  But I think their relationship develops similarly enough to the characters in the movie where you get that Beauty and the Beast vibe.

4) Shang: Shang is hot mainly because he doesn’t wear a shirt  for  good chunk  of the movie. Unlike Aladdin, he doesn’t even lamely try to cover it up with some stupid purple vest (thank God).  My one issue with him is  I don’t know how he didn’t realize Mulan wasn’t a girl.  Couldn’t he…anyway.  I think that might’ve been the hottest thing about Mulan and Shang’s relationship was that it didn’t start as insta love-he thought she was a guy.  And then when he found out the truth he shunned her away for awhile instead of instantly forgiving her.

YA Comparisons:

Dimitri (from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy): Dimitri and Rose sort of have a Mulan/Shang relationship.  He’s her teacher.  But obviously, Dimitri notices that Rose is a girl.  Maybe, a little too much.  It’s sort of disturbing given the fact he’s about seven or so years older than her.  And what’s even more disturbing is that it’s sort of hot.

Adam (from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi): Okay, he’s a hot solider.  Grant it, he’s not sent to train whiney Juliette but he sort of does in a weird way.  And I can totally see him-at least in my mind going around shirtless like Shang.  Though I wonder how he’d sing.  Yeah, maybe he needs to work on that.

Matthew (from Samantha and the Cowboy by Lorraine Heath): You probably have never heard of this book.  And I’m sort of embarrassed that I read it.  Okay, I’m not really embarrassed that I read it because it’s just like Mulan but takes place in the Old West.  See, Samantha’s dad died  and she has to support her family so she cuts off all her hair and…sounds familiar?  Except Matthew is a hot cowboy not a solider and Samantha really never gets into the cowgirl thing-that’s okay she and Matthew still get together anyway.  It’s one of those books you want to read, but you don’t want to admit you own.  And fans of Mulan should love it if they dare to read it.

5) Eric: Eric’s probably my favorite Disney prince because of those eyes of his.  It also helps that there’s actual character development there as well-so he’s not just another pretty face like  Prince Phillip.  It’s true he instantly falls in love with a voice (one of the lamest plots, though it’s sort of understandable since said voice saved him and all), but when he meets the actual Ariel they have to work at what they have.  And besides that, he kind of learns the lesson that insta love isn’t all it seems when he fell in love with a sea witch because she had Ariel’s stolen voice.  Then again, that lesson is sort of ruined when he finds out that it’s Ariel and she gets her voice back and…stop analyzing.

YA Comparisons:

Jack Force (from Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods): Jack really is like the Prince Eric of Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods series.  He’s the swoon worthy guy you want to have who occasionally does make a boneheaded move but makes amends.  And I admit a lot of my lust for Jack is shallow, much like my lust is for Eric.  Plus, he sort of owns a castle (well, a penthouse and a Jaguar).  Oh, and he has a penchant for homeless girls  too since Schuyler is described in the earlier books as sort of dressing like how Ariel dressed when Eric saw her on the beach.

Erik Night (from PC and Kristin Casts’s House of Night): I feel bad about doing this since I love Prince Eric, but Erik Night is an obvious fan fiction version of Prince Eric if I’ve ever seen one.  Once again, I really don’t recommend this one if you need a Prince Eric fit.  But it was too funny to resist.

Jesse de Silva (from Meg Cabot’s The Mediator): Jesse is so Prince Eric worthy it’s not even funny.  It’s true he’s not a prince, he used to be a rich rancher though before he died.  And if you think about his death it was kind of similar to the problems Prince Eric had.  Perfectly nice guy makes some bad decisions regarding women, only Jesse turned up dead not married to a sea witch.  And Suze is spunky like Ariel too.