Live Action Beauty and the Beast: A Review

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I try not to get excited about new movies and this is why. I love the original animated Disney Beauty & the Beast (which I have mentioned before in my Favored Fairytales entry on the subject). But I also love the idea of a Beauty humanizing a Beast in general. It’s such a compelling story, so I was looking forward to seeing a live action adaptation. I was curious to see how they would play the story, what kind of depth would be imparted to the characters, a new spin on a “tale as old as time.”

What I got was an often inferior carbon copy of the original animated version.

I cannot express how much this disappoints me. Don’t get me wrong; the movie isn’t bad per se. I don’t feel like I should demand my money back or that I wasted my time. It’s competently done. The singing (for the most part) is good, the CGI passable, the sets rich and ornate (albeit over-Baroqued), the costumes were pretty, and I enjoyed the talking furniture. There are some good moments between Belle and her father, both Gaston and LeFou were entertaining, and some of the plot holes from the animated film were explained (like how Gaston knew where the castle was, what happened to Belle’s mother, and why everyone didn’t seem to know that a giant, impossible-to-miss castle was sitting within a day’s ride of the village).

But.

There were so many things they could have done to enrich the characters, to deepen the story, that were missed. What depth the animated version had was mostly lost in the translation to live action, and what backstory there was felt pasted in as an afterthought rather than integrated into the film.

While I could go on at length pointing out all the flaws of the film (which others have done in great detail), I want to focus on three main points whose poor execution crippled the live action film:
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On Melodrama

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The word “melodrama” has taken a rather sorry turn in modern usage. Today, if someone or something is called “melodramatic” it is viewed as “over the top” in a bad, silly, or unbelieveable way. It suggests a lack of subtlety or character or a firm relationship with reality. Generally, if someone calls your work “melodramatic,” it isn’t a compliment. (And yet the word “dramatic” hasn’t quite descended to the same depths as its longer cousin.)

This saddens me, because in the classical sense, I love melodramas. The work of Dickens or the Brontë sisters and even Jane Austen can be called melodramas because they appeal to emotion and are sensationalized to heighten those feelings. So many of my favorite stories are technically melodramas, from Little Dorrit and Jane Eyre to more modern incarnations like Ripper Street and Doctor Who. (The argument could be made that these are technically dramas, but I personally feel like “drama” is just short for “good melodrama.”)

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What I’ve Learned (so far) About Writing Steampunk & Romance

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''When you're last minute revising and you realise how fucked you are'' Upshout.net

”When you’re last minute revising and you realise how fucked you are…”    (from @MedievalReacts)

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Hi folks!  Sorry I missed posting an entry last week, but I was in the final stretch of editing the second draft of All’s Fair and could not be derailed for anything. Let me just say that it’s been a trip, and it ain’t over yet, but I’m enjoying this slight breather.  Back in February, I sent All’s Fair through it’s first round of beta readers. This resulted in a major overhaul for my manuscript: 1/3 had to be cut entirely, 1/3 needed extensive reworking, 1/4 needed to be moved and/or have minor editing, and 1/12 could be kept as it was.  And Draft 2 is easily 100 pages longer than Draft 1 due to all of the stuff that was missing during my first attempt.  Needless to say, it’s been quite the learning curve, especially since I have never written in these two genres before; normally I stick with high fantasy.  So, what are some of the things that I learned at this juncture?

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Checking In

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Greetings to you all from the beginning of Week 3 in NaNoWriMo!  I have to say, this month’s writing has gone a lot better than it has for quite a while.  You may have noticed that my last few entries (although few and far between) contained a note of despondency.  Or maybe a healthy dose of it.  Or perhaps entire buckets of the stuff.  At any rate, I’d essentially stalled out on Ravens and Roses, which I’ve been working on pretty much non-stop for longer than I care to remember.  I know that I swore (again) that I’d have a finished draft at the end of this year (sound familiar?) and I still might.  It just may not be the project I was expecting it to be.  

My 2015 NaNo project, “code-named” AFiLaW (pronounced A-F-I-Law), also referred to as All’s Fair, has gained a lot of momentum, despite containing two genres that I’ve never worked with before:  Romance and Steampunk.  I’ll admit that at this point the prose is a little light on both; I keep forgetting to add steampunk descriptive details and I haven’t touched the sex scenes.  In fact, I may decide not to write any of the latter at all.  Scenes with that particular kind of intimacy are alien to me, and every piece of advice I can find about writing in the romance genre says: “If you are uncomfortable writing sex scenes, then don’t write them because your discomfort will show through.”  So we’ll see.  Still, even with those quibbles, I’ve been writing at least 1,000 words each day and often pass the 1,500- and 2,000-word marks.  That’s practically unheard of for me; I don’t recall doing that well even when I began Ravens and Roses in earnest back in 2010 for my first NaNo.

I think the reason I’ve been doing so well lately is threefold:

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I’m Still Alive!

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Hey.

Do you know what day it is?

Yes, it’s a Tuesday.  What else?

Okay, the date is October 13th.  What happens on October 13th?

Why, the birthday of one of my favorite fictional characters:

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Gender, Color, and Sexuality in Characters

I’m currently working on the script for my manga project Astral Rain for the April edition of Camp NaNoWriMo 2014.  Well, more accurately, I’ve been working on a lot of background notes, plot notes, and world-building because I noticed that a lot of that hadn’t been worked out in advance.  As I was writing, I came across the article “I’m Demanding Better Representation For Black Girl Nerds in Geek Culture” by Chaka Cumberbatch.  And that’s when it hit me:  all of my characters in Astral Rain are white.

Granted, it’s supposed to be an OEL (Original English Language) manga, and most anime and manga lack people of color.  I have no problem featuring white characters, but what surprised me is that the idea of any of the cast of Astral Rain being anything but fair-skinned never occurred to me.  And that concerns me.

Image via What If Books Etc (click for link)

Image via What If Books Etc (click for link)

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A Romantic Excerpt

I generally don’t care much for Valentine’s Day.  It’s very distressing to have such a gooey, sugary, PINK holiday in the same month as your birthday.  I never quite understood why everyone would make such a huge deal out of a holiday were you don’t get a vacation and only certain people (a.k.a. couples) get presents.  It’s a holiday about love, but if you love someone, aren’t you supposed to show that love all year round, not just one random winter day?

Valentine’s Day can evoke emotions in a range wide range, from being very happy (for those who have special someones), to annoying (if you don’t care for pink), to downright depressing (if you are single and lonely).  For me, I started off very grouchy cause let’s face it, this day kind of shoves in your face the fact that you are alone (if you happen to be so.)  Even if you’re fine the rest of the year, Valentine’s Day twists something in your gut.

But, thanks to a totally unexpected card (yes, a real, snail-mail card!) from my onii-san David Greenshell, followed by an equally unexpected visit from him at work, the day took a turn for the better.  It’s easy to forget that Valentine’s Day is about love, not just romantic love between couples.  Friends and family can express love on Valentine’s day too.  We just get caught up in the romantic trappings that we forget love has many myriad forms.

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