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Review: “Beauty and the Beast’s” tale as old as time gets a new look

When it comes to certain films, the idea of remaking them can give fans a reason to worry. But a Disney classic like “Beauty and the Beast” is a film that has transcended normal fandom and has held a special place in Disney fanatics hearts for nearly 30 years. How would Disney’s gamble to revamp such a cherished legacy pan out?

It was nothing short of the trademark Disney magic that has surrounded the studio’s film franchises for decades.

Academy Award winning director Bill Condon took on the challenge of bringing back a daring childhood classic to the big screen. The film is beautifully executed with next level production value and stellar cinematography.

Everything from the CGI,  costume design and set construction was phenomenal. The sets and the scenery are absolutely breathtaking and transported movie goers to the french provincial village alongside the cast.

What is key about this film is that is keeps the essence of the original film that we all love so dearly. The movie is similar to the 1991 animated version, but it also includes some new elements as well.

We see all sorts of familiar faces this time around, but the audience is introduced to a few new narratives. In the beginning of the story we get the full backstory on the Prince’s spell. We also get a subplot explaining what actually happened to Belle’s mother.

Gaston, played by Luke Evans is played more intelligently and charming than the 1991 adaptation. The film focuses in on Evan’s Gaston more than ever before. He becomes a major player in this adaptation and believe it or not, more lovable. 

Emma Watson as Belle in the 2017 Beauty and the Beast Credit: IMDb
Disney included a very well rounded cast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the titular roles alongside Evans, Josh Gad and many more. Condon does a wonderful job retelling the classic tale.

Watson, who won the hearts of legions of Harry Potter fans in the early 2000’s as Hermione Granger, is an absolute joy as Belle. She played the role of Belle perfectly. Much like Watson is in reality, the 2017 version of Belle was strong, smart, independent, and  fearless. However, she also put her own spin on the iconic Disney princess, making her a more powerful woman than the Belle we all knew and loved growing up.

Alongside with Watson, Dan Stevens blew minds with his performance as the Beast. Stevens had to undergo the difficulties of working with computer graphics in order to bring the Beast to life. This comes as a challenge to many actors because this requires many takes in a motion-capture suit and stilts as well as one as a disembodied face. Because of the technical aspects required to make Stevens into the Beast,  he and Watson had many scenes that were filmed at different locations.  More credit to both of them for making us believe they were truly staring into each others eyes.

Josh Gad, who plays the role of LeFou, makes the sidekick character come to life with his wit and extra special charm. There was a huge controversy surrounding his portrayal, though Disney hasn’t confirmed it, critics and fans say that Gad’s  version of LeFou is portrayed as gay. Even though the 1991 LeFou showed signs of unrequited admiration for Gaston, Gad’s performance takes it to a new level. Watch the film and see it for yourself!

While the film was impressive, there were several things fans might not appreciate. Although the film was an all around success, it seemed as if the focus was more on the production value over quality of the story telling. Disney cast A-list actors, use the best CGI, and had beautiful designs, but lacked the real importance of the original the story between Belle and the Beast.

“Be our Guest” in the original 1991 “Beauty and the Beast” Credit: The Walt Disney Company
The pace of Belle and the Beast’s tale was rushed and was depicted as more of a filler for the rest of the movie, even though this is the one most important thing in the tale. Belle and Beast did not go through the same restraints that the original did. The importance was emphasized on the idea of them falling in love rather than exploring how they fell in love.

Musically, the film jumps from one number to the next making the audience believe it is being told the same story, including a great amount of special effects “eye candy.”

The classic song  “Be our Guest” was not comparable to its predecessor, it did not include the magical twist and feeling to want to dance around the table when it was on.

The tavern scene, featuring Gaston and LeFou did not put as much emphasis on Gaston’s manliness and played more into the controversy surrounding Gad’s character.

It is safe to say that Disney gave into modern times for this film and felt like modern interests were more beneficial to the original interpretation. But the film makes up for its absence by allowing us to admire the stellar visual elements, and the new versions of the iconic characters we all know so well.

Despite the personal attachment to classic Disney films and the stubbornness to forget all the differences from the original, “Beauty and the Beast” is exciting, creative and magical. 

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