By Bekah Denny
“A tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme, ‘Beauty and the Beast’” graces the silver screen once again in its new fantastical rendition. Reflecting on an old classic through live-action and refreshingly reprising the motion picture without adding the extra grandiose that Hollywood insists audiences need, Disney dared to take another step into the modern age.
Portraying the role of Belle, Emma Watson embodied the 1991 animated character splendidly, creating a reality that fans have only dreamed of. The unrealistic glide of the yellow ball gown added to the enchantment of the story along with the flawless execution of the Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) of the Beast, played by Dan Stevens. Although lacking the classic deep and gruff voice, the beast maintains an air of mystery and contrast to the other townspeople to keep with the tone of the original.
In contrast to the animated representation, Disney took liberty by adding modern motifs to better suit today’s audience. By clarifying the unexplained absence of both the Beast and Belle’s parents, accepting Belle’s father, and the happenings of the other cursed creatures should the last petal fall, gives audiences a much needed improved storyline.
Along with the new additions to the plot, the original composer of the 1991 “Beauty and the Beast” soundtrack, Alan Menken, composed three more songs for the live-action remake. Blending seamlessly with the classics, I met these new songs with slight reservations, but those apprehensions were quickly relieved due to the uncanny familiarity I felt when listening to the ballads. “How does a Moment Last Forever (Music Box)” repeated on three different occasions, became the anthem of the new songs. Kevin Kline (Maurice), Emma Watson, and Celine Dion’s renditions had me humming its melody all the way home. The choir of candlesticks, tea pots, and coat hangers reminiscing on their time as humans sang “Days in the Sun.” This new addition was filled with hopefulness and I felt a surge of sympathy for the menagerie of enchanted household items. The haunting melody of the Beast as he is in his deepest despair in the new ballad “Ever More” claws away any reservations about the Beast’s true identity as someone who is deserving of love.
Beauty and the Beast however, is not immune to the mistakes all silver screen features inevitably make. In this remake, the magic was momentarily lost when it was clear the actors were actors and the scene was simply CGI. Scenes and random events that make up the storyline plunder the movie in its desire to stay true to the original. When the story takes the shape of real people, the same random, seemingly impossible developments, like a horse magically coming to the rescue and silverware having their own lighting crew, raises some questions and rips me out of its splendor.
The overly scandalized “gay moment” that plagued all news outlets across the globe, causing the Bible belt to close its doors to the film reels, was a one second frame of two men, LeFou (Josh Gad) and the minor character “Stanley” (Alexis Loizon), dancing. I would have completely missed this “shocking” moment if not for all the publicity it had received and the “moment” itself left me utterly unaffected.
New comedy for all ages was integrated throughout the dark storyline adding levity to the mystical plot. Physical comedy between Belle and Beast as well as quick wit, introduced mostly by LeFou, created a more entertaining tale for adults and children alike. The cabbage-stomping war-loving veteran, Gaston (Luke Evans) struck true fear into the hearts of all watching due to his eerie realistic characteristics. When a villain has the capacity to be a real person in society, the impact of his/her character goes deeper than any fire breathing villain ever could, awaking the hatred felt for the villains in the real world.
Disney has done it again bringing the fairytale to life once more and awaking a new audience of Princess Belle wannabes. Raking in $64 million dollars on its opening night, “Beauty and the Beast” shocked and captivated audiences. Overall this movie gets a rating of a four out of five.