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Beauty and the Beast Review

Disney once again proves that they can do no wrong with their new live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, now playing in theaters.

Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast's hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.

Beauty and the Beast is the latest of Disney’s growing collection of live-action movies, which are based on their classic animated predecessors. This new version of Beauty and the Beast perfectly recaptures all of that enchanting and playful spirit that we all loved from the original animated classic. The film incorporates enough new material that helps it stand by itself, much like Disney’s last live-action film, The Jungle Book. This film is not at all disappointing. Beauty and the Beast does right by the original and delivers that musical experience that dazzles and tugs at your heart.

Using material from the original script by Linda Woolverton, Beauty and the Beast screenwriters Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos were still able to keep the basic narrative form that Woolverton's script had, while adding new character backstories and fixing the plot holes the original had to bring out a larger story. Beauty and the Beast succeeds at putting a modern spin on the themes and concepts of the original animated, without losing what long-time fans of the original animated film still love today.

Director Bill Condon brings the world of Beauty and the Beast to life in live-action form with stellar production values, sparkling digital backdrops that blend perfectly well with the amazing real-world sets and incredible realistic versions of the famous enchanted staff that populates the Beast’s castle. You will have to adjust to the new look of the servants, especially for die-hard fans of the original classic, but they work. And their new tweaked design serve some practical purpose (for example, the bird-inspired design of Plumette). Also, Condon and his team are triumphant when it comes to staging those iconic musical numbers as “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest,” making them clever and visually-magical.

Alan Menken once again helms the music and the new songs that he co-wrote for this film are just as memorable as the most famous songs from the animated version. The new songs become important for the storytelling and the development of the characters, and at the same time, allowing the cast to show off their impressive vocal talents. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens are naturally as impressive as the seasoned stage theater actors that make up the supporting cast. Watson and Stevens have undeniable chemistry and successfully portray their own versions of Belle and the Beast while staying true to the reason we fell in love with these characters in the animated version. Stevens also impresses with an emotionally rich performance, and all done with motion-capture technology. Watson succeeds in making Belle an inspiring heroine, much like she did as Hermione Granger.

Luke Evans and Josh Gad get to showcase their pipes, although we knew Gad could belt out a tune since Frozen, as they are Broadway performers as well. Evans gives a remarkable and enjoyable as the self-obsessed and egotistical Gaston and Gad as the subservient Le Fou. Le Fou gets a lot more depth in this film then his animated version did ( and with all the buzz about his sexuality, he’s only hinted as gay). Kevin Kline (Maurice), Ewan McGregor (Lumiere), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts) and Audra McDonald ( Madame de Garderobe) round out the cast of supporting players, in addition to Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Stanley Tucci (Cadenza) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette). The human players and enchanted servants of Beauty and the Beast are just as memorable and stand out as they did in the animated film, and are just as entertaining and engaging as ever in their roles.

This live-action version of Beauty and the Beast is sure to gain that instant-classic status, just like it’s 1991 predecessor did. Condon’s Beauty and the Beast delivers the same delight that the classic Disney romance and musical did and will please fans of the original, as well as the younger generations who have never even heard of the Tale as Old as Time before. Wherever it's available, make sure to experience it in IMAX, as it only enhances the magical enchantment of the film and classic songs.


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