Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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The tale as old as time returns to the big screen, this time in live-action, revisiting the classical story of a cursed, monstrous-looking prince and a beautiful young woman who fall in love. Disney has been remaking a lot of their best known films lately, including Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that a remake of another one of the most influential and timeless animated films was being released. Although Beauty and the Beast shares many similarities with the original film, it’s still wonderfully heartfelt and entertaining. Emma Watson is perfectly cast as Belle, who brings lots of courage and heart to her character and the film, and she contributes her great voice to some of the film’s best musical numbers. Though Dan Stevens may not yet be quite a well-known actor, his leading performance in Marvel and FX’s hit series Legion, and now in this as the menacing Beast, demonstrate his excellent talent and his career is sure to soar from here. Luke Evans is well-cast as Gaston, who is bright but menacing and does justice to the original incarnation of the character. Kevin Kline is also great as Belle’s father, but my favorite of the cast has to be Josh Gad as Gaston’s hilarious and charming sidekick LeFou. Gad seems to be Disney’s favorite, first having played the lovable snowman Olaf in Frozen, and now he’s given more hilarity, great lines, and even another musical number, all of which you won’t forget. LeFou wasn’t a standout character for me before, but Gad entertained and surprised me like I thought no one could in the role. Also fantastic are the voices of Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts.

What makes Beauty and the Beast such a fun time is that although the story is pretty much the same as we know it to be, it’s still able to use the talents of its great cast, writing, and directing to bring new elements and twists into the iconic visuals and story we love. There isn’t much you can re-imagine very easily with this Disney classic, unlike last year’s The Jungle Book, which almost felt like a new adventure because its visuals made the film feel like a very new experience. Beauty and the Beast doesn’t do that as well, as the story doesn’t stride away from what’s already been established, but the director still makes similar shots and scenes interesting in a new medium. Although you already know the story, the film breathes new light into the visuals, humor, and style of the film. It’s very familiar yet exciting at the same time. The costumes and sets are gorgeous, but not as much of the budget is put into the CGI, which is solid but could have been better, especially the motion capture work on the Beast. It’s unfortunate that Hollywood will soon remake every movie we love because of how much money they’ll make off of it, but this movie is able to preserve the magic Disney had created with it before and re-imagine it on the big screen. It is still a remake, but it’s one that will inspire kids who are new to the plot, and fill older generations and especially fans with nostalgia. The movie sticks to the musical nature of the animated film,  so expect recreations of your favorite musical numbers, including “Belle”, “Gaston”, “Be our Guest”, and of course, the most famous “Beauty and the Beast”, just to name a few. These scenes are well-choreographed and the songs are so timeless that you still want to go back and listen to them after you watch the movie. Even if you know how the story ends, the movie will still make you rethink the film’s themes, want to sing and dance to the songs, and applaud at the end, like my entire audience did.

Beauty and the Beast follows the established formula that we know, but thankfully it’s not too familiar to not be enjoyed, with a great cast and visual appeal that do justice to its source material. Disney is coming at us with a handful of remakes, and thankfully this turns out to be one of the better ones. If you’re looking to revisit a classic or just have a good time at the movies with your family, then I’ll definitely recommend going out and paying to watch this on the big screen.

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Logan

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In the near future, mutants are nearly extinct and a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.

Logan takes a new turn on Hugh Jackman’s clawed superhero who he’s portrayed for the last 17 years. Instead of being the wise-cracking hero we all know and love, Logan is now depressed, lonely, and has let go of the Wolverine mantle. There is little hope left in his life and his daily routine consists of caring for his fellow mutant Professor X, and working as a limo driver. The genre is slightly switched up, feeling more like a drama with action scenes and chases rather than just a big superhero action movie. Lots of the film focuses on Logan reflecting on his decisions and his identity while trying to protect a young mutant who needs his help. Also, the rating is cranked up from the familiar PG-13 to a hard R, allowing the violence to be as bloody, gory, and insane as necessary, and Logan to curse as much as he wants. The action is directed excellently, with every shot capturing the intensity perfectly, and lots of the elements within the action are thought of very well. The R-rating allows the action to reach its true potential, which is sure to satsify audiences and fans, but younger viewers who may have enjoyed previous X-Men films should be warned about this film’s graphic content.

James Mangold, who also directed 2013’s The Wolverine, creates a completely different film here, which is unbelievable as most superhero directors, even the greatest ones like Christopher Nolan and the Russo brothers, will make similar films in concept and tone. However, Mangold even takes the same protagonist as before and alters the reality, tone, genre, and target audience to make a potent, mature, and exceptional film that’s distinct from all the other X-Men movies. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart give it their all in the roles they’ve played for so long, delivering more soul and emotion than ever before. Newcomer Dafne Keen does a great job as well, and her role is sure to launch a great career for her. The movie sometimes delivers some backstory and exposition unclearly, and it could have done a better job delivering the needed exposition at a right time and making it understandable. However, fans are still sure to love this unconventional superhero film that feels more like a mix of Western and melodrama than your typical superhero movie that you expect to be released nowadays. If you loved previous X-Men movies, even the hard-R Deadpool, this film stands outside of that genre so you should walk in with some more patience and an open mind than usual.

Logan has redefined the superhero genre with a poignant storyline and characters, that’s sure to satisfy fans of the series and action films, despite being distinct from the other films in its genre. Hugh Jackman gives it his best in his final performance as the iconic Wolverine character, and without a doubt the greatest one in the franchise.

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