Tony's Take

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST review

Tale as Old as Time

The great 1991 Disney-animated classic “Beauty and the Beast” receives an update this year with the live-action version.  Taking place in a small provincial town in France, a young woman named Belle is getting through day-by-day as each day is just like the previous.  After her father disappears while on a trip, she stumbles onto a nearby castle, one that hasn’t been seen in a very long time.  Its’ inhabitants have been enchanted by a magical spell, turning the prince into a hideous beast and all who live at the castle into household objects.  With mutual true love being the only way to reverse the spell for the Prince and everybody else as well, the household objects, led by Lumière the candelabra, Cogsworth the clock, and Mrs. Potts and her son Chip the tea kettle and cup, must find a way to bring the two together after Belle’s been sentenced to a life at the castle in-exchange for her father’s freedom.  The rest follows the tale as old as time, one of the most enchanting and magical fairy tales of all time!

Emma Watson stars as the beautiful, inquisitive woman named Belle.  Watson’s beauty is only surpassed by her fantastic voice, which allows her to nail each vocal performance.  Dan Stevens plays the Prince who has been turned-into the Beast.  Luke Evans plays the great Gaston, the man after the affection of Belle.  Josh Gad joins the ranks of groundbreaking Disney characters by playing LeFou, Gaston’s right-hand-man and expanded to become the first ever openly-gay Disney character.  Kevin Kline plays Belle’s father, Maurice.  Ewan McGregor brings the inviting candelabra to-life as Lumière.  Ian McKellen voices the head house butler-turned-clock named Cogsworth.  Emma Thompson voices the Head maid-turned-tea kettle Mrs. Potts.  Nathan Mack voices her son Chip, a tea cup.  Audra McDonald voices Madame Garderobe, an opera singer-turned-wardrobe.  Stanley Tucci voices her husband, Maestro Cadenza.  Gugu Mbatha-Raw voices Lumière’s wife, Plumette.  Hattie Morahan plays the Enchantress.

“Beauty and the Beast”, directed by Bill Condon, is a stunning, vibrant, and emotionally-charged update to the animated classic; offering a deeper, more expanded-look into the characters and the story we’ve grown to love over the last 26 years!  The characters all have more to do this time around, as we discover a little bit more about each of them.  The actors tasked with the job of bringing these classics to life to a marvelous job, led by Watson as Belle and Stevens as Beast; but also McGregor, McKellen, Thompson, Gad, and Evans all have their moments to shine as well!  As with any cinema classic, the original music that became a cultural phenomenon is very much omnipresent.  Songs like: “Belle”, “Be Our Guest”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and “Gaston” just to name a few!  Also, this time around, the great Alan Menken offers viewers some new music as well.  “Days in the Sun” is a remembering of what it was like to be alive, “How Does a Moment Last Forever” is an introspective look at Belle and her father’s life, and “Evermore” is a powerful ballad sung by the Beast.  These new songs fit seamlessly-into the story and create new depth as well.  The visuals are another marvel in “Beauty and the Beast”.  The production design is well-crafted and very detailed, adding a sense of realism to the computer-generated characters.  The film also has a darker “tone”, which not only serves the story, but its’ setting as well. There are times where Beast looks very CG, as well as some of the household items, but it doesn’t take away from the story that’s unfolding.  Certainly one of the most talked aspects of the film will be Josh Gad’s character, LeFou, and the liberties taken with his story.  As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, LeFou is Disney’s first ever openly-gay character.  While this has been met with outrage by some (including a theater refusing to show it), I urge you to reserve judgement until after you have seen the film.  For those who are appalled or against it; Disney has been introducing new societal norms for years.  Nearly each film involves death and, whether you recognize it or not, manages to expose your child to that difficult topic in a way that makes it easier to deal with.  I personally think Gad did a tremendous job, his subtle lines and his comedic timing serve as excellent tools that allow him to become a Disney trailblazer.  Everyone can, and will, form their own opinion but Josh Gad will go-down in Disney history!  “Beauty and the Beast” has a run time of 129 minutes which can be a little long for the kids, but its’ well-crafted story seems to fly by.  This live-action remake of the original classic manages to both honor the original as well as offer a deeper, more enchanting glimpse at the tale as old as time!

“Beauty and the Beast” recounts the tale of the 1991 classic, where a young woman falls in-love with a hideous Beast.  The film features impressive visuals, beautiful music of new and old, a very strong cast, and Disney’s first ever openly-gay character.  If you are heading to the movies this weekend, bring the whole family to see “Beauty and the Beast”!!

 4.5/5

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is rated PG for some action violence, peril and frightening images, in theaters MARCH 17TH!

 

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