Each year, Disney continues to make everyone’s dreams come true by bringing back some of our favorite animated classics as live action movies. 2017 is no exception with another road to our childhood with Disney’s new live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.” It is beautiful, breathtaking, funny, captivating and, in classic Disney fashion, magical.
With an enchanting cast and an eye for detail, “Beauty and the Beast” is closely aligned to the studio’s celebrated 1991 animated musical fantasy, Bill Condon, director of the movie, seemed to be aiming for a healthy mix of old and new; replicating key scenes and costumes almost exactly, while also introducing new backstories and new songs from composer Alan Menken and lyricist Tim Rice, who both worked with the Broadway version of the classic tale.
Bill Condon thought the characters needed more depth to exist in a realistic world.
While there was no one who could replicate Belle’s intelligence and independence like Emma Watson, Gaston was the standout character in the movie. Played by Luke Evans, Gaston’s fundamental character traits did not change: boorish, arrogant and self-centered. However, Evans deserves much more credit. He was such a charmer as he did Gaston’s smirking self-regard possibly even better than the animated version. His determination in making Belle his wife added more depth to his character through his confidence as well as uncontrollable temper.
Belle’s father Maurice, played by Kevin Kline, was not as dorky as in the animated version. It was clear that Belle mimicked her father as being intelligent, handy and determined, as opposed to learning those traits on her own.
The audience got the chance to dig deeper into Belle and the Beast’s family background. Have you ever wondered what happened to Belle’s mom? Or could you imagine how tragic it was for the little Beast prince to lose his mom?
Another new addition lay in the end of the movie with the Beast’s roar. While Disney lovers considered this a funny moment, Dan Steven’s fans might have developed a stronger crush on him.
Perhaps the biggest change in the “Beauty and the Beast” universe belonged to Gaston’s sidekick LeFou. Josh Gad, who plays the character, provided comic relief as Gaston’s foolish follower, but now he is a fool in love with Gaston in the first-ever openly gay subplot in a Disney film. As Condon told Attitude magazine, “LeFou is somebody who, on one day, wants to be Gaston and on another day, wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings.”
LeFou is but one proof of diversity in the movie. “Beauty and the Beast” succeeded in bringing more races than just white to the scene. There were many non-white characters such as the town’s bookstore owner, Lumiere’s girlfriend, and the castle’s singer.
Then there were the big musical sequences. “Be Our Guest,” with Lumiere as the lead, was the most wonderful montage of scenes in the movie. It was such a joyous and magnificent set piece it made everyone in the theatre stand up and applaud. Belle’s opening with “Little town” and Gaston’s song “Gaston” also left audience in awe.
Disney also introduced not one, or two, but three new original songs from original score composer Alan Menken, “How Does a Moment Last Forever,” “Days in the Sun,” and “Evermore.” Although the audience could not hum along as the songs were not in their memories, they did enjoy the uplifting beat.
Overall, the “Beauty and the Beast” live-action film is just as enchanting as the animated version before it but, there is something there that it did not have before.