Movie Review: “Ready Player One” [Spoiler-Free]


I’ve been intending to write this review since we saw the movie a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve been having a hard time thinking about how to go about it. This is the kind of movie that it’s going to be difficult to review without spoilers, you see, but I’ll try my very best because I want to share a few thoughts.

Ready Player One” takes place in a future that is rapidly declining into serious dystopian territory. The world has become a depressing place for a number of reasons, but most people get through their day by being obsessed with the OASIS which, for all intents and purposes, is much like a virtual reality version of the internet. It is a massive online world where the entire planet can be connected at once, play games, learn, explore, go on adventures, and basically do anything and everything in the form of an avatar they create to look however they want. Our story begins when the creator of this OASIS world, James Halliday, passes on and leaves behind a challenge: find the Easter Egg that he’s hidden in the OASIS, which requires passing three hidden challenges, and you’ll inherit the OASIS itself, as well as his fortune. The film follows teenage boy Wade Watts, as well as some friends he meets along the way, as he fights to be the first to complete Halliday’s challenge.

The first thing I will say is that I did read the book by Ernest Cline before seeing the film, and while that may have prepared me for some of the film’s more iconic scenes, I do not believe that it detracted from my enjoyment, nor would reading the book have been a necessity in order to properly enjoy the film. In fact, I saw the movie with my husband and daughter, neither of whom had read the book, and they both enjoyed it just as much as I did.

Secondly, having read the book, I will bring up the fact that a lot of liberties were taken in the making of the film, specifically with the manner of the three challenges, which were changed dramatically. Now, many avid book readers scoff at this kind of thing, often considering the book to be “perfection” and thus changing it constitutes a terrible sin, but I’m going to break tradition here and say that these changes were actually for the better. Without going into too much detail, the fact of the matter is that while Halliday’s challenges sound wonderful and mysterious within the context of the book, on screen they would, frankly, be pretty boring. By drastically changing the first challenge in the film, for instance, we were able to be introduced to all the important characters, including the antagonists, as well as the intricately beautiful world of the OASIS in one fell swoop, whereas the book’s version of the challenge has only two characters discovering it secretly and completing it without anyone else in the OASIS knowing what is happening. I loved the book challenge, don’t get me wrong, but for a visual medium, the changes that were made for the film make much more sense and are able to get the important information to us much quicker while also giving our eyes a feast of nostalgia.

And therein lies my third point: the nostalgia is strong in this film. The secondary plot point of the story, as the book-readers will know, is that James Halliday was obsessed with the 80’s, and pop culture in general, and as a result the entire world becomes obsessed with those obsessions as they struggle to unlock the keys to his Easter Egg hunt. That means that the movie is filled with so much nostalgia that it is impossible to see it all upon first viewing. From players’ avatars to background scenes, games that are being played, items that are being won, and everything in between, there are nods to pop culture from the 80’s and 90’s absolutely everywhere, with a large portion from the 2000’s as well, just to keep things modern. My family and I had a blast pointing out characters from some of our favorite shows and games, chuckling at special items the characters used that came from movies or shows from our childhoods, and gaping at CG versions of pop culture icons that we never would have expected to show up in this film. There were nods to anything and everything, with something for everyone to recognize, and if you, in particular, grew up in the 80’s and/or 90’s, you’re going to be grinning like a lunatic while trying to catch everything.

In keeping with the fact that there is both retro nostalgia and current-day pop culture within the film, I thought I’d also mention that, yes, this is a movie for the whole family. There is a bit of mild swearing, slight romantic suggestiveness, and violence of the virtual kind, none of which would phase the majority of younger children. The final decision lies with the parents, of course, but I will tell you quite honestly that there was nothing in the length of the film that I was concerned about my 7-year-old seeing or hearing.

Back to the quality of the film, I felt, overwhelmingly, that the acting was well-done on all fronts. Tye Sheriden was virtually exactly what I’d pictured for Wade Watts while reading the book, and though a few of the characters were a wee bit stereotypical in nature, the “High Five” group all did a great job of bringing their respective characters to the big screen in a way that made you fall in love with them. Ben Mendelsohn as the lead antagonist and bigwig in the evil IOI company, Sorrento, was great in that he was a wonderfully weaselly S.O.B. whom you just wanted to see smashed down. I-R0k – a character who lost some of his backstory in the film but was still fairly front-and-center as an antagonist – was played very humorously by T.J. Miller in a way that made you really imagine him as a pathetically over-confident little creep of a kid playing the game in his parents’ basement. Simon Pegg, though his role was not a particularly large one, was a great addition as Halliday’s previous business partner and friend, Ogden Morrow. The one cast member who took me a bit off guard was Mark Rylance as the all-important Halliday, simply because his performance was very unlike how I’d pictured Halliday while reading the book. That said, I have to concede that his take on the character was much more interesting than the one in my imagination, performed as a wonderfully awkward nerd who was sweet enough, yet seemed to struggle horribly every time he had to speak to a real flesh-and-blood person. It brought a depth to the character that ultimately ended up being quite important to the Egg hunt itself.

Finally, though I mentioned it somewhat while speaking about the nostalgic qualities of the movie, I have to mention again that the visuals throughout were absolutely stunning, and I’m not speaking about just within the OASIS. In the “real world” scenes we were shown important locations from the book, such as the “Stacks” – literal stacks of trailer homes built dozens of layers high in order to cram as many occupants into as little space as possible – the junkyard where Wade has his hideaway, and the IOI “loyalty center” where Sorrento and his team keep base, and all of them were actualized beautifully. In particular, the Stacks looked like they were pulled right out of Ernest Cline’s brain, and the scene did an amazing job of pulling you into the rough reality of the world Watts – and most of the planet – were so keen to escape. Of course, in addition to the “real world”, the OASIS is absolutely stunning in every sense of the word, showcasing a huge variety of different worlds crawling with every form of pop culture you can imagine, all in a “it looks kinda real, but also very video game-ish” style that perfectly suits the reality they’re trying to capture. It was all very lovingly done in order to make the OASIS and the world outside it seem equal parts real in their own rights, and it’s all so genuinely beautiful that I didn’t want to blink for fear of missing something amazing.

What it all boils down to in the end is that I have next to no complaints about the film, and honestly none worth really bothering to dive into. It was an exceptionally fun movie for my entire family, with tons of both in-your-face and more in-jokish content from the past four decades of pop culture to keep all three of us giggling like fools. The changes made from the book made absolute sense and only served to create a better visual experience for the movie-goer, and the entire experience was stunning to the eye, including an absolutely epic end battle scene that you’ll have to play frame-by-frame once it comes out for DVD and Bluray just to catch half of what’s happening. A genuinely epic tale, true to the original story while understanding what does and doesn’t work for film form, and absolutely a must-watch, in my opinion. Go see Ready Player One if you haven’t already!

Have you seen Ready Player One? Let me know what you thought of it in the comment section below!

Movie Review: “Hellraiser: Judgement” [Spoiler-Free]


It’s always a concern when a long-running franchise reboots or moves forward without the actor who made them what they are. Doug Bradley was the “lead cenobite”, Pinhead, since the original film landed in the late 80’s, and while no one would ever argue that the later Hellraiser movies were master-crafts of modern cinema, fans of the franchise would certainly agree that Bradley made the character his own. He is Pinhead, and he is Hellraiser. He remained so until the 2011 Hellraiser: Revelations, when Stephan Smith Collins took over and, let’s just say, wasn’t widely loved for his version of the iconic character. So, understandably, horror fans were both intrigued and concerned when yet another actor, Paul T. Taylor, took over the role for Hellraiser: Judgement. Would he be able to pull off the necessary look? The definitive voice? The required sense of terrifying stoicism in the face of limitless pain and torture?

The irony here, which I’m making my way toward, is that Taylor was one of the only good parts of the movie.

Judgement opens with the cenobites discussing how they need to “get with the times”, for lack of a better phrasing. They talk about how the puzzle box (which, if you’re a Hellraiser fan, you’ll know is an incredibly important part of the movies’ lore) is obsolete, and that in a world of technology they must adapt in order to stay relevant. It’s an amusing conversation that sets the tone for…a plot twist that never really occurs. Though the cenobites’ methods are quite different in this movie from previous ones, “embracing technology” is not even remotely part of those new methods. The closest thing we see is when the “Auditor” character uses an old-school typewriter to record the victims’ sins. Now, I’ll grant that seeing the cenobites using modern technology is definitely not what I look for in a Hellraiser movie, so I’m not terribly disappointed in this respect. However, I thought it worth mentioning simply for the fact that it makes the opening conversation seem unnecessary and misleading about what’s to come.

Moving into the judgement process itself, I don’t want to give much away because I found this to be one of the most interesting parts of the film, but I will tell you that it involves a trial-like process of auditing, judging, and sentencing. This process was, in my opinion, very odd, very creative, and – in places – very visceral. I enjoyed it, while simultaneously wondering about the mental state of whomever came up with it. The sentencing part in particular, which involves “cleansing” from the jurors followed by a visit from the Butcher and the Surgeon, was in line with the kind of disgusting torture I would expect from a Hellraiser film. Additionally, I loved the design of the characters in these roles, particularly the Butcher and Surgeon, whose bodies are stitched together. The jurors, who are beautiful women with destroyed faces, satisfy the gratuitous nudity quota of the film, and perform, subjectively, the most disgusting acts of the process. These acts – while not necessarily gory – are the kinds of things that will make the average person gag. One scene in particular seems to exist purely for the gross-out factor, but also fits in with the task they’re supposed to be performing at the time, so it at least makes sense while making your stomach turn.

You may notice, as I’m speaking about this judgement process, that I’m not mentioning Pinhead. That’s because he’s not involved in the slightest, and that’s the – rather large – downside. During all of this judging, Pinhead is only seen a small handful of times, for a few seconds at a time, lounging in a stone chair in another room, listening to the screams. Taylor’s look and mannerisms during these tiny scenes are spot on, but still, I found myself constantly wondering when Pinhead was going to have any input to anything that was occurring.

The other side to the plot follows a group of three detectives as they investigate a series of murders perpetrated by a killer who bases his killings on the ten commandments and those who he perceives to have broken them. Aside from the crime scenes left behind after a few of the murders – which, admittedly, are creative – this side of the movie was rather boring to me. The three detectives aren’t particularly interesting or likable, so I didn’t find myself rooting for anyone, or even rooting against them (as one might be wont to do in a slasher flick). I just, generally, didn’t much care about them at all. I wanted to see more of the cenobites, more of the gruesome killings, and more of Pinheadalreadyomfg, and the exploits of these three vanilla human characters did nothing for me at all.

There was a bit of heavenly influence into the plot as well, which I won’t comment on for the sake of spoilers, but I will say that I, personally, thought it was silly. The idea had promise, but I didn’t feel it was played out well, and didn’t add anything to the movie at all, though admittedly the plot, such as it was, would have made less sense without it.

Taylor’s Pinhead finally got a few lengthy scenes coming up to the end of the movie, and here I’ll let you know that I think he did a great job. Taylor’s portrayal of the iconic character was very similar to Bradley’s in many respects, and was overall as good as we could have hoped for from anyone who isn’t Bradley himself. He got the stance, facial “expression”, and voice down, while the costume and makeup team nailed (ha ha) the look. I felt it was an excellent performance, all told, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Taylor in the role again in the future. Given the right script and some key scenes, I think he could cement himself as the lead cenobite of this age of Hellraiser films.

With that, however, I must make one last point about the movie, and that’s that I hated the ending. In part my disdain is because of the fact that it’s one of those endings that just happens, all of a sudden, when you feel like there really should be more to it. But also, I just thought it was a stupid idea for an ending. I get what they were going for; I just didn’t like it. At all.

In conclusion, Judgement was hardly the worst of the Hellraiser line of movies, but it definitely wasn’t one of the best and would have been completely forgettable if not for the judgement scenes. It had some good points, but large chunks of it were very “meh” and I felt that Taylor’s Pinhead was drastically under-utilized. My overall feeling by the end of the film is that I would love to see Taylor team up with the costume crew and whichever insane mind came up with the judgement process for this story, retcon this film, and go for a reboot that hearkens back to the original Hellraiser movie. I’d love to see what they could do with the other original cenobites, especially after getting a tease of Chatterer in a couple of small scenes throughout Judgement.

An okay movie with some very interesting ideas pasted against a mostly underwhelming plot.

Have you seen Hellraiser: Judgement? Let me know what you thought of it in the comment section below!

Movie Review: “The Cloverfield Paradox” [Spoiler-Free]


Let me first preface this review by stating that I had mixed feelings about the first two movies in this strange, eye-twitching franchise.

The original Cloverfield film, while I enjoyed getting to see a giant, unexplained creature destroying the city, bothered me a great deal because of the ridiculousness of the main characters’ motives. The logic seemed thin throughout, and I personally loathe most “found footage” films, which ask us to suspend our disbelief that anyone in the middle of an apocalyptic situation would focus so much energy to keep the camera rolling at all times.

The second in the franchise – 10 Cloverfield Lane – was, I felt, a good movie overall, but it was a bit confusing as a tie-in to the original film. It could have easily been a stand-alone story, but shoe-horning in a morsel of Cloverfield’s world at the very end seemed a bit forced to me, if not entirely confusing and perhaps even a little infuriating because of the questions it raised just as the credits rolled.

With that said, we move on to The Cloverfield Paradox, and I have to be honest: I’m surprised by how many critics and film-lovers alike are bashing this Netflix release and calling it, “The worst of the franchise so far.”

Now, I won’t go so far as to claim that it was a masterpiece or anything, but to be perfectly and utterly blunt: I fully enjoyed this movie, save for a few of those eye-twitching bits I’ve found the franchise to be known for.

The film opens with the main character, Hamilton, having a discussion with her husband about the mission she’s considering being a part of, which boils down to a team heading to a space station to test a device they call “The Shepherd”, with which they hope to solve an energy crisis occurring on Earth. This energy crisis has driven the planet to the brink of war, which puts a great deal of pressure on our crew, who are a diverse cast from several different countries, and we watch as tensions grow with two years of failure to get a positive result from The Shepherd. During this time we also hear talk of something called “The Cloverfield Paradox”, which posits that the Hadron-collider-like “Shepherd” has as much chance of ripping apart time and space as it does of achieving the goal of limitless free energy.

In short, the real story begins when the team finally gets The Shepherd running, only for it to overload and catch fire, and when the immediate crisis has been averted, our heroes discover a sobering situation: the Earth has vanished.

Without going too deep into spoiler-territory, I will state that the Paradox, such as it is, has occurred, colliding two dimensions into each other, which causes all manner of strange and destructive occurrences in both worlds. We flash back and forth between the space crew and the original dimension’s version of Earth, on which we are lead to believe (without significant detail being revealed) that the Cloverfield incident from the original film is now occurring, offering the plausible conclusion that it was the Shepherd’s overload that caused the kaiju-creature to appear on Earth in the first place. This explanation – such as it is – is a fair enough one, that begins to piece together answers to some of the questions that we’ve all had since the viral marketing scheme for Cloverfield first overtook the internet, although Paradox hardly goes into significant detail on this matter.

On the space station we join the crew as they desperately work out how they are going to get home, while all manner of strange events begin to take place as a result of their time-and-space-warping misadventure.

At this point it becomes nearly impossible to discuss the plot further without risking major spoilers, so instead lets look at some pros and cons, keeping in mind that these are my opinions and if you disagree, good for you!

Pro: Though it seems that many disagree with me, I personally thought the cast was top-notch. I enjoyed their performances for the overwhelming part, and enjoyed the diverse group of characters.

Con: While I enjoyed the performances for the most part, I have to admit that the space-crew’s reactions to their predicaments weren’t always as extreme as I would imagine they should be. In particular, when the extremely odd and unbelievable occurrences being to crop up, their level of acceptance is unfathomable. In short, in a few places, the crew definitely should have been freaking the hell out, where they mostly gape, blink, and move forward.

Pro: The weirdness was extremely fun, with some of the incidents making me giggle like a fool, and others making me wish I could borrow the imaginations of whoever came up with those scenes. This one might actually be a con for some people, who would hope for a more serious tone with events grounded in the realm of reality, but I enjoyed the creative craziness.

Con: None of that creative craziness is explained in the slightest, which can be pretty frustrating for anyone (like me) who likes explanations. As we began watching the movie I posited to Jason that this was going to be the kind of movie that says, “see, we literally broke reality, so we don’t have to explain anything!” And that’s exactly what happened. The closest we get to an explanation is “two dimensions existing at once and fighting for the same space”, but that doesn’t even come close to making any sense of some of the strange things that occur on the space station. So if you’re hoping for answers, I’ll warn you now that you’re not going to get any. At least not any satisfying ones.

Pro: The events of the movie do shed a little bit of light on how the Cloverfield monster came to New York city in the first place, which is something we’ve all been wondering about for years now.

Con: But it also opens up several more questions that are not answered by the end of the film. This seems to be a running theme with all three movies, and makes me think – unfortunately so – that we’re never going to get anything close to any real answers by the conclusion of the franchise.

All in all, it’s difficult to explain exactly what I found appealing about the movie without ruining big moments for whomever has yet to watch it, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed it. I thought it was fun; a wild and weird sci-fi, creepy at times, upsetting at times, and definitely a little mind-blowing at times. It had its flaws, and I’ll readily admit that the number of unanswered questions by the end make me want to scream, but I still enjoyed it for the most part. If you can turn your brain off for a little while and accept that the movie is more about having fun with warping reality than actually explaining anything in a straightforward manner, then you might enjoy it too.

Movie Review: “Thor: Ragnarok” [Spoiler-Free]


Upon it’s opening in theaters, Thor: Ragnarok garnered a lot of love and a significant bit of rage, so let me preface this review by saying this:
It’s a movie, people. Enjoy it, or don’t, but in the end, whether or not you thought it worthy of the original comic story-line isn’t about to make or break the rest of your existence, so just relax. ^_~

Now, I’m a huge fan of Marvel in general, so I may be a little bit biased, but I’ll try to lay it out plainly and simply.

First off, while I love Thor, and am a huge fan of Chris Hemsworth, I’ve personally felt that the Thor movies have been some of the weakest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I thoroughly enjoyed the first in the line, but didn’t feel that it compared to the first Iron Man or Captain America films. The second in the Thor line – Dark World – felt extraordinarily forgettable to me; in fact, to this day, pretty much the only thing I remember about it is the floating transfer truck scene. So with that said, I went into Ragnarok with very little in the way of hopes or expectations. I’d heard good things from friends and strangers alike, but after being underwhelmed the first two times around, I just naturally didn’t have the highest hopes.

I did, however, find myself well and truly surprised.

Now, it’s difficult to say too much without spoilers, but here are just a few points that made the movie a hit with me:

  • The soundtrack was phenomenal. If you’ve seen the trailers to this movie, you already know what I’m talking about. That one track alone bumped up the movie’s excellence factor by a vast ratio.
  • Thor – likely as a result of hanging out with the other Avengers – has developed quite the amusing sense of humor. In the opening, pre-title scene alone he cracked wise half a dozen times and had me giggling like a fool. Since Thor has traditionally been one of the dryer characters in the MCU, throwing out previous humor-moments mainly because of accidental ignorance of Earth customs – I felt it was great to see him actually have a bit more personality of his own.
  • There was a solid level of action throughout. Without going into too much detail for fear of possible spoilers, I can tell you that the movie began with a battle, moved into an almost-battle-that-became-a-tense-chase-scene, which then moved into an attack, followed by a battle, followed by more battling, before eventually moving to the big final battle. There was a lot of action, is what I’m saying, and it was excellent action at that. Sword fights, fist fights, comedic fights, genuine death and destruction. It was all there, and it was all great.
  • More interaction between Thor and Loki. That may be a given, but I thought it was worth mentioning, because Loki is a wonderful character, in my opinion, and Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have an amazing chemistry that works so well as brothers who both love and hate each other.
  • Cate Blanchette as Hela was absolutely perfect. I may not be the best person to ask, since I never actually read any comics involving the character, but that aside, I thought she was amazing. She pulled off a character who is truly, remorsefully evil and doesn’t think twice about killing in an instant if it suits her. She absolutely came off as the type of person who didn’t doubt her own intentions for even a fraction of a second, and that’s a truly frightening concept.

That’s not to say that the movie was a masterpiece. It had it’s little annoyances, for sure, but that’s true of practically any piece of media, so I tend not to be overly critical of these kinds of things.

I will, however, bring up the playful humor, as this was one of the points so angrily discussed by rage-filled comic fans after the film’s release.

The argument, in a nutshell, is that Ragnarok is an extremely important story-line in the Thor comics, and is one that is filled with drama and pain, as well as a very serious, emotional tone. The film, however – like most of the MCU – takes on a much lighter tone to the story, complete with the very regular bursts of humor that the Marvel films have become known for. Many comic fans scoffed at this, basically stating that the near-constant humor downplayed the tragic events of Ragnarok and made light of what should have been a devastating experience for Thor and his people. And for the most part I have to say that I…disagree. There’s something to be said for remaining true to source material, but at the same time the MCU has developed into its own entity, and while they can do serious, part of the identity of these movies has become their humor. There’s nothing wrong with new takes on old classics, understanding of course that some people will like it and others won’t. Overwhelmingly I’ve felt that the people making this complaint about Thor Ragnarok were whining, more than anything, that the movie wasn’t exactly what they wanted it to be, which, let’s face it, is life. There have been plenty of movies that I was excited for and ended up hating; I didn’t start an internet crusade as a result, because other people did like them, and in this world of entitlement I must point out that paying to go see a movie doesn’t mean you deserve to enjoy it. It’d be nice if you did, but it’s not your right. Putting that back into the conversation of Thor Ragnarok, anyone who’d seen previous MCU movies knew damn well what kind of universe they were getting into when they went to see this film, and it would have been an entirely logical assumption that it would be rife with the same humor all the films have come to be known for. So to then turn around and whine about that humor seems ridiculous to me. Therein lay my two cents.

THAT SAID…I will admit that there were a few moments – specifically at the end of the movie – wherein the little humorous pokes made me groan a little because of the genuinely dramatic moments they were interrupting. At this point alone, I did, in fact, find myself thinking, “Uh, yeah, okay…they probably could have done without that for this scene.” That, however, is pretty much my only real complaint about the movie.

All in all, I thought Thor Ragnarok was an incredibly fun movie that expanded upon Thor’s character within the MCU, and it was enjoyable all around. If you’re a fan of previous Marvel movies, and you’re able to put aside any fanatic-obsessive dedication you may have to the original comic story-line, you’ll probably enjoy this one as well.

Have you seen Thor Ragnarok? Let me know what you thought of it in the comment section below!

Movie Review: “Beauty and the Beast” (2017)


Being a child of the mid-80’s and through the 90’s, I grew up surrounded by Disney in all it’s many forms, and like many little girls of the age I was obsessed with Disney Princesses. As a result, the idea of making live-action reboots of these classic characters didn’t sit well with me when Disney first started pumping them out. Beauty and the Beast in particular was one that I was very wary of, as it was one of my all-time favorites as a child. I watched the cartoon version of the movie over and over, knew every song from heart, and admired the hell out of Belle. Talk all you want about “Stockholm Syndrome” and all the other nonsense that people use to ruin fun stories, but I thought Belle was an amazing heroine – strong, smart, brave, and kind. Everything that I wanted to be.

So when I first heard about Emma Watson taking up the role for the live-action remake, I have to admit that I cringed. Not because it’s Emma Watson – I personally think she’s a perfectly talented actress – but because she wasn’t an animated brunette voiced by Paige O’Hara. I worried that Watson wouldn’t capture the true heart of the character I’d grown up with. I worried that the CG version of the Beast would look ridiculous. I worried that the strange-looking redesign of the supporting knick-knack cast would be distracting and off-putting. I worried they’d screw up the songs, play around with the plot, and basically just mangle what was an important part of my childhood.

Last night I finally laid down and watched the movie on Netflix with Adrianna, and I have to (happily) admit that I needn’t have worried at all.

Now I’m quite certain that not all fans of the original animated film are going to sit well with the live-action version, but I personally thought that they did an amazing job of remaking the story while sticking very close and true to the original source material. Though there was a generous helping of new material – a bit of backstory for the Beast, a few new songs (that were beautiful and haunting, by the way), etc. – and a few small changes to make the storytelling make a little more logical sense, the majority of the film was a beautifully well-done love letter to the animation. The song scenes, for example, were near-perfect play-by-plays of the originals, with little cute extras thrown in. Important conversations were taken word-for-word, and the actors did their best to emulate the original character’s voices while still making them their own.

The visuals were stunning, with the cursed castle inhabitants growing on me more with each passing second. The Beast’s animations were damn near perfect, completely destroying my prior concerns that he would look stupid and fake. Color and shadow and contrast were used in a variety of ways to give the impressions of the original animation while still looking real. You could imagine the little village and the sprawling castle being real places that you could visit tomorrow, but they also seemed fantastical and dream-like.

Watson was lovely as Belle. Dan Stevens was equal parts frightening and charming as the Beast. Luke Evans was wonderfully hateful as Gaston, and Josh Gad was amusingly adorable as LaFou. The supporting cast all played their parts well, staying true to the characters while still having fun with them. I found myself singing along to the songs I knew, melting into my pillow while listening to the new ones, and the ending – though I knew exactly what was coming – made me squeeze my daughter and nuzzle my head into hers.

“They’re going to get married now!” Adrianna told me, and I giggled like a fool, because she’d enjoyed the live action movie in the same way that I enjoyed the animated one when I was a child, and I had to admit that I’d enjoyed it too. Quite a lot, in fact.

Live action remakes are always going to sour some people, especially if they’re huge fans of the original animations, and I myself will say that the original still sits in my mind as one of the greatest Disney animated films of all time, and it probably always will. But this live action love letter was done carefully, and with a great deal of care. They clearly wanted to breathe new life into the story while being sure not to alienate those who will always love the original for what it was, and I believe they pulled it off well.

I loved it, and would happily watch it again.