‘Beauty and the Beast’ remake charms its way into audience’s hearts (Review)

The live action remake of Beauty and the Beast was released Friday, March 17, in movie theaters everywhere in digital and 3D.

Beauty and the Beast follows the story of a bookworm named Belle who feels out of place in her small village.  When her father runs into trouble at a cursed castle, Belle goes to save him only to find that the castle’s objects come to life and that the Prince-turned-Beast is not as bad as she thought.  But not everyone agrees.

My favorite movie growing up was Beauty and the Beast.  Even today, when people ask me what my favorite movie is, I always describe Disney’s 1991 animated classic with the biggest smile on my face.  So, when I heard Disney was doing a remake, I had very high expectations. In fact, right before I sat down in the theater, I had a last minute thought that perhaps this new take would ruin my childhood.  But, to my delight, I was wrong.

The remake was entertaining, charming and witty.  The screenplay (by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos) maintained the same iconic lines and plot that audiences came to love before.  But now, there is more background on Belle’s mother and some sarcastic jokes that kids may not understand but fans of the original, who are adults now, will enjoy.  Some of the new plot drags, but the dazzling spectacle of it all keeps you hooked and the anticipation of seeing your favorite scenes come to life maintains your interest.

The performances are strong all around.  The one who steals the show is Josh Gad, as Gaston’s goofy, but lovable sidekick LeFou.  His quick wit will make you chuckle and his energetic performance will entertain all ages.  And that “exclusively gay moment” everyone is talking about?  It’s not as big of a deal as people are saying, however, LeFou’s arc is played wonderfully by Gad.  I actually want a sequel or prequel just focusing on LeFou.  Disney, are you reading this?  Make it happen!

Luke Evans brings a deliciously sinister quality to Gaston (and it helps that Gaston has all the best songs in the film).  Maurice, Belle’s father, gets more screen time in the remake and Kevin Kline’s portrayal earns it as he makes you want to learn more about his past.  Dan Stevens portrays the Beast as a lonely, but strong soul.  His performance stays true to the movie, but his new song “Evermore” is a great moment.  Also, his eyes are GORGEOUS.  Try not to get lost in them the whole movie.

The “Castle Squad,” as I have come to affectionately call them, also give great performances.  Emma Thompson is an endearing Mrs. Potts and Nathan Mack is adorable as her teacup son, Chip.  Ian McKellen is quite funny as Cogsworth and Ewan McGregor, despite never seeing the original movie, brings the same upbeat and whimsical performance to Lumiere.  Audra McDonald and Stanley Tucci are also delightful as Madame Garderobe and Maestro Cadenza, respectively.

Belle, as portrayed by Emma Watson, was shockingly one of the weaker performances in the movie.  It might have just been that the other characters were so much more entertaining that Watson’s Belle got washed away.  Watson portrays the iconic Disney Princess with her own twist, but the performance is a little bland compared to what Gad, Stevens and McGregor did with their characters. Nevertheless, Watson is still good in her role, just a little underwhelming.

As for the music, all your favorite classics are back with energetic performances such as “Gaston” and “Belle.”  The new songs written specifically for this movie by the original film’s composers Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, are welcomed additions, specifically “Evermore” and “Days in the Sun.”  It’s hard to not sing along with the movie when you’re in the theater.

And, of course, the special effects and the scenery were beautiful.  The Beast looks exactly like Dan Stevens and the inanimate objects that come to life are impressively animated.  I did not see the movie in 3D, but I could imagine that the flashy dancing and action would delight 3D viewers everywhere.  As a fan of the original movie, seeing my favorite sets and characters come to life was such a treat.

In all, I loved the remake!  It was both a tribute and a new take on the original classic.  I may have loved this movie more than a typical movie goer, as I have been a massive fan of it for a long time.  But, fan or not, it is hard not to be charmed by the dazzling world of Beauty and the Beast.

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