I’m a huge fan of classic Disney tales and Beauty and the Beast is within my top 3. When I heard Disney was making a live action version of the film, I was hesitant at first until the last few months revealed trailers that introduced fans to the actors who would be playing our beloved characters along with stunning clips and beautifully nostalgic songs. From that moment on, it couldn’t get here any sooner and I found myself counting down the days until it would be here. Finally, on March 17th, it arrived and people of all ages raced to the theater to watch it.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is directed by Bill Condon with a screenplay written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos. As previously mentioned, the tale as old as time was released on March 17th and already it’s made $170 million at the box-office and I’m sure those numbers will continue to increase. Fans and critics alike are loving it, even the doubters, but it doesn’t surprise me one bit. Disney took a classic story and brought it to life by allowing us to enter a magically nostalgic world with breathtakingly gorgeous cinemography, well-known actors playing beloved characters that suited them perfectly, lovely song performances, and a bit of new mixed with the old.
As you all know, the story follows a young prince (Dan Stevens) who, because of his selfish and heartless ways, is transformed into a beast by an enchantress who also casts a spell on his entire castle- including his servants. He and the rest of his “friends” can only be set free by true love, and the days of hope have long been forgotten with each falling rose petal. After a crazy turn of events, a young female named Belle (Emma Watson) shows up at his dark and lovely enchanted castle, could she be the one to change everything?
From the very moment you step into the world of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, you’re smacked in the face with stunningly beautiful cinematography that takes you back to the first time you saw the original film. Some of the scenes are shot-by-shot recreations, and to not only do that, but also deliver it in such a delicate way is by far impressive. Not all cartoon-to-live action films transfer this smoothly. Several times throughout the film they pan the camera out to give a look of the beautiful scenery they created and it’s breathtaking. Besides this, there are also moments where they pay close attention to detail, zooming the camera in, soaking up all the creativity that went into making this film.
Fans get to hear their favorite songs throughout the film including “Beauty and the Beast,” “Be Our Guest,” “Belle,” “Gaston,” “Something There” and more. We are also introduced to songs that are new and catchy that help the story flow – a perfect balance of old and new.
I loved how they stuck with the original story, but also added some new magical moments to it, including a richer backstory. It didn’t take away from the original and left the audience pleasantly surprised. This can be said about the characters as well. Disney did such a fantastic job picking the actors to play these characters with new quirks and they were all wonderful, including Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Hattie Morahan, Haydn Gwynne, Ray Fearon, Nathan Mack, Audra McDonald, and Gerard Horan. Can you believe how many seasoned actors came together for this tale?
I knew from the very moment I saw Emma Watson as Belle through movie stills that she was the perfect actress to play her. She’s smart, strong, bold, adventurous, and independent… everything that Belle is. However, when I heard her sing, she knocked it out of the park and there was no turning back. I think it was a role that was meant to be hers all along. In addition to Watson, each actor brought so much personality and life to their characters, allowing this film to blossom into something uniquely magical. I know many were worried about all the CGI, especially for the Beast, but they delivered it well and you appreciate it more and more as the story goes on.
I want to talk about every single one of the characters because they were so freaking amazing, but since I can’t write a book, I’ll settle with the characters Gaston (Luke Evans) and LeFou (Josh Gad) and the relationship between these characters. Let me just say, Evans plays the most impeccable Gaston ever. Disney really transformed his character into an even more slimy bastard than before. So much so that a little kid behind me at the theater made the comment, “He’s naughty. A very naughty man.”
Meanwhile, the same can be said for Gad playing LeFou, and I love how he’s been quoted saying, “There are no small parts.” They upped LeFou’s boy crush on Gaston and also did a few twists and turns with his character at the end, which I really enjoyed. For those who are angry about LeFou being portrayed as a “gay character,” did you not watch the original story? There are equal amounts of subtle hints in the original as there are in the new film, so just stop bickering and go see it.
I loved everything about the ending. Between the ball scene, which was wonderfully nostalgic, and the multiple fight scenes, which were incredibly fun and intense, it’s everything a fan could ask for. I actually found the original Disney to have a far darker tone than this one altogether. For example, the end fight scene with the Beast and Gaston wasn’t near as terrifying or brutal as the animated film, or perhaps I’m just remembering that moment as a child and the fear that was instilled in me. Either way, this isn’t a flaw by any means, just an observation I had.
Overall, Beauty and the Beast may be a tale as old as time but this film proves it never gets old. Turning a treasured story into a live-action film isn’t easy, but Disney succeeded on every point and much credit goes to perfect casting. When I saw it in theaters, the audience gave a round of applause when the ending credits began to roll, which rarely happens- so I think that speaks for itself. If you have the opportunity to see it this weekend, it’s definitely worth your while and a fun time for the whole family!