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‘Beauty and the Beast’ exceeds expectations

It’s been 26 years since Disney released its animated classic, “Beauty and the Beast,” and now, we are once again invited to relax and pull up a chair as the company proudly presents a stunning live-action remake of the movie.

“Beauty and the Beast,” based on the original French fairy tale of the same name written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, is about a beautiful girl, named Belle, who agrees to trade places with her father after he is taken prisoner for trying to steal a rose from the Beast’s garden.

The Beast, however, is actually a prince who caused a curse to fall upon him and all the inhabitants of his castle after he refused to show compassion to an elderly woman.

An enchanted rose now measures his time, because if he can’t learn to love someone and earn her love in return before the last petal falls, then he is doomed to remain a beast forever.

Overall, the dynamic of the movie is well-paced with musical numbers spread relatively evenly across the entire film.

Beauty and the Beast

(Photo courtesy of comingsoon.com)

Even though some of the scenes may seem a bit slow and drag on a bit, they are crucial to the plot line of the movie, and they are often followed by an especially comedic, action-packed or emotional scene, which helps to keep the movie moving.

Particularly noteworthy to me were the musical numbers, especially the opening “Belle” number and the “Gaston” song in the tavern.

Both scenes were true to the original animation’s versions, but they had their own twists and surprises, especially with the choreography and some of the lyrics. The “Be Our Guest” rendition was also a stunning and entertaining part of the movie.

Original songs aside, the movie also featured new songs by Disney-Legend composer Alan Menken that weren’t in the 1991 version.

While all the actors’ performances were amazing, particular standouts include Emma Watson as Belle and Josh Gad as Le Fou, antagonist Gaston’s sidekick and so-called best friend.

Watson portrayed Belle spot-on, and her personality really shined through and helped to enhance the qualities that make the character relatable, unique and beautiful.

Gad allowed for many comic relief moments throughout the film, and his portrayal of the character also served to enhance Gaston’s character and truly show how evil Gaston actually is.

The most surprising performance to me was Luke Evans as Gaston. Evans not only reinforced the narcissistic attitude of Gaston, but he also did an excellent job at being truly evil to everyone, beast or best friend alike.

Evans made Gaston a character that the viewer loves to hate, which only helped to reinforce the overall message that beauty on the outside isn’t what really matters.

The scenery of the movie paralleled the animated classic version, while adding a dark theme to what is considered a family film.

The costumes also enhanced the characters’ personalities, and though they were different, they all seemed to carry some resemblance to their animated counterparts.

The best examples of this are Gaston’s entire wardrobe and the ballroom outfits from Beast’s and Belle’s waltz, another beautiful and magical scene.

During the production of the movie, there was some controversy over the design of Belle’s unforgettable yellow ball gown, but I personally love the dress. I feel like it had many of the traditional elements of the original dress while also possessing a unique style fit for this version of the movie.

What I enjoyed especially about this movie was that new scenes were added that served to tie up loose ends from the first version.

Viewers learn exactly what happened to Belle’s mother, and it is also made clear why the prince was so arrogant and cold-hearted in the beginning of the film.

That being said, the movie is almost an exact parallel to the 1991 animated version, which I enjoyed overall.

Seeing the songs performed in live-action and being able to hear exact lines and dialogue from the original movie brought back memories of my childhood.

There is an underlying darker tone to this version of the movie, especially with the new songs, costumes and scenery, but the excellent casting and renditions of the songs carry this movie along beautifully, making it a perfect movie for people of all ages for any occasion.

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