Beauty and the Beast Movie Review
Beauty and the Beast instantly became a Disney classic in 1991. Being a child of the 90's (born in 1987) Beauty and the Beast is one of the first movies I remember seeing in theatres. I would sing all the songs, dream of having dancing dishes serve my meals, even had my trustworthy Belle doll with me at all my doctors appointments so I wouldn't be afraid. Beauty and the Beast was a love for viewers young and old. The animated film is so iconic that it was the first full length animated feature nominated for Best Picture at the 1992 Academy Awards. The buzz around the new live action Beauty and the Beast has everything we know and love from the original and then some!
First, I have to mention the cast! Emma Watson as Belle is perfect all around! Emma is known for taking on strong roles on film and off camera. Her personality and depiction of Belle is exactly what we need for young girls and boys to see on screen. She is selfless, fearless, smart, and kind. Many people are critical of her singing, but I loved every moment she was on screen. She didn't simply mimic the original, yet there was such a familiarity with not just her role but the movie as a whole.
Luke Evans was the biggest surprise for me. I am not extremely familiar with him as an actor, but I walked out of the theater saying "Wow! Gaston was amazing!" He encompassed the manipulative and narcissistic character that is Gaston. Being the sucker I am for Disney villain's songs, as numbers I knew he was a part of were coming up, I anxiously awaited for his performance.
Right next to Luke Evans is of course Josh Gad. I was most excited when I heard Josh Gad was casted as LeFou. I found myself thinking he was going to be an amazing and obvious choice. He was spot on. LeFou was not just the sidekick to Gaston but had much more character development than in the animated classic. I love Josh Gad's Broadway performances and knew he would bring that passion for musical theatre to the screene.
Now to the music! The original scores and lyrics by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman were the key element of the original I was thrilled to see! With slight changes is some lyrics, I was able to sing along (in my head of course) but still have pleasant surprises in the changes. There were also three new additions to the live action musical. I am normally not a fan when musicals are changed; however, this didn't bother me. I could have done without them, but they brought more explanation to the storyline and didn't seem out of place.
Speaking of the storyline, thank you Bill Condon for staying true to the original story. It brought so much joy to me to see my favorite animated Disney film come to life with explanation to things most Beauty and the Beast fans wonder. For instance, why doesn't anyone in this village know there's a beast living in an enchanted castle just miles away? Also, where are everyone's parents? What happened to Belle's mom? What was Prince Adam like growing up? And why would an enchantress curse an entire castle? Don't worry! Everything gets answered that we have been wondering for over 26 years! I just won't tell you though.
The film is so visually appealing and beautiful just like the original. I can't count how many times I started to tear up whether it be the opening number, the first shot of the enchanted castle, or during Be Our Guest.
I loved how Belle's dresses were a reflection of her character and her practical personality came through in the designs and colors. My one complaint would be the camera work. I felt myself get dizzy at points. It was to create a more whimsical look I suppose, but it just isn't my preference of style.
Now I wouldn't be doing the film any favor if I didn't answer the question on everyone's mind. When Bill Condon made the statement of "Disney's first openly gay character" referring to LeFou. Let me keep it simple. If you were not on a witch hunt for the scenes and characters, they probably would have occurred and passed without much notice. Nothing is taking away from the film or the message the story sends which is the beauty is found within and being accepting of others. If you have concerns, I assure you this is an extremely family friendly film that does not deviate from the original. It shows the audience to be strong, courageous, and stand up for what is right. As Mrs. Potts has said "It'll all turn out alright in the end. You'll see."
Photo Courtesy to Walt Disney Studios