A tale as old as time, Beauty and the Beast is a beloved classic among all ages. March 17th marked the premiere of the new live-action spin on the 1991 version, and I saw it first so that I can give you all the info regarding the plot, a comparison to the animated version, as well as my own personal thoughts. So, without further ado, here is my review of Beauty and the Beast.
It is hard to define whether this would be a “spoiler” or “non-spoiler” review of the movie, considering it is based on a classic that many people already know the ending to. That being said, I still want to take a look at the well-known plot of this film.
I went on quite a journey with this film, from disliking it, to finding moments of nostalgia, to completely falling in love with this film. The film opened up just as the animated one did, with a narration of how the beast became cursed, however this time not through stain glass images, but through live action storytelling.
The film portrayed a younger beast (who was human at the time), in some very interesting and cheesy face paint, and had a grand ballroom scene. The costumes were lavish and the beast walked through like he owned the place, which in retrospect, he did. Then, an old poor woman interrupted the ball, and offered a single rose for shelter.
The beast laughed at her, and she transformed into a glorious enchantress, and as guests ran out of the castle screaming, the young boy was transformed into the beast we see in the majority of the film. It was also at this time that a question that was presented in the animated film, was answered.
The question as to why, in the animated version of the film, was everyone completely oblivious to the prince disappearing, has been answered. In the live-action retelling, this was because the enchantress erased everyone’s memory of that night, and the Beast all together.
After that we meet Belle, and the film introduces her in the song Belle, where she sings about the poor provincial life that she leads. I will admit that it was at this point that the film became very slow. It was also during this song that we met Gaston and Le Fou, and I was introduced to the wonderful wit and humor that Le Fou possessed.
After that song, we got to hear a new song sung by Belle’s father, Maurice. Throughout this film, Maurice and Belle’s relationship is explored deeper. There was another moment that was significant in this part of the film: Maurice is going on a trip, and before he leaves, he asks Belle if she wants him to bring her back something, and she says a rose.
This comes directly from the original tale of Beauty and the Beast by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve. Back on track, Maurice sets off, and of course meets some less than favorable circumstances when he arrives to the Beast’s castle.
He explores the castle, and after realizing that the objects are enchanted, he tries to leave, and he does successfully, unlike the animated film where he enjoys the enchanted objects and the Beast finds him warm by the fire. Maurice is almost gone, until he notices a rosebush, and picks a rose for Belle, and this is when the Beast captures him. This event is also based off of the original story.
Instead of going through the entire plot of the film (which I could do, but we may be here for a while), I will leave learning about the exact details of the rest of the plot up to you, and I will be addressing some of the notable events that take place:
One element that I appreciated from the live-action adaptation is the further exploration of the characters. This is something that Disney did very well in the live-action Cinderella, where we learned much more about the Prince and the Stepmother.
In this film, we get to learn more of the backstories of Belle and the Beast, but we also get to know some of the minor characters, like Le Fou. Oh Le Fou, I must say that Josh Gad truly breathed new life into this character that was practically forgotten in the original film.
He makes him much deeper, as not just Gaston’s sidekick, but a person that questions if whether following Gaston is the right decision. The film also explores Belle and the Beast’s relationship further. One thing that was unique to this film was the witty banter and joking nature between the two that just did not exist in the animated film.
I don’t want to spoil it too much, but the film also gives more depth into the curse, like what happens to the animated objects over time, and how the curse is not just to the people of the castle, but how it has affected the entire area.
Also introduced in the film was a few new songs, including one sung by the Beast that felt especially Broadway-like. Another thing that just must be mentioned is the visual effects. This film is so visually stunning, from the castle, to the environment, all the way down to the costumes and makeup.
The ballroom scene that ignited the magic in our hearts 20 years ago, ignites a new magic in the live action film. Watching that scene felt like true magic.
However, there were a few things in the film that I was not a fan of. As mentioned above, the beginning of the film was slow. There was also times were the scenes felt forced, and the Be Our Guest scene is a good example of that.
The live-action film was extremely similar to the animated film in some ways, sometimes even down to the very word, and it was noticeable. At times, there seemed to be a struggle between trying to imitate the animated film and give it a new twist.
I will be the first to admit that I was not thrilled when it came to Beauty and the Beast. As more of the trailers were released, I felt more and more upset at the path the movie was taking.
I wasn’t very happy with the way the beast looked, and I wasn’t too fond of Lumiere’s, Cogsworth’s or Mrs. Potts new looks either. Even though their looks are still not my favorite, the entire film grew on me.
I didn’t know quite how special this film was until I was waiting outside of the restroom after the film had ended. As I was waiting, I heard a few different sets of people either humming or singing “Tale as Old as Time”. It was then that I could see and truly appreciate the profound impact that making a live action remake has.
It isn’t Disney running out of new ideas, it is quite the opposite, in fact, Disney has found a way to take beloved classic films and reintroduce them to everyone, both old and young. Hearing those girls humming the classic song was when I could see that a spark had been reignited for them, and for some younger folk, this spark has been lit for the first time.
Overall, I would highly recommend that you see this film for yourself, and if you have seen it, let me know in the comments what you thought. If you haven’t seen it yet, let me know what you are looking forward to seeing most.
Thanks, and as always, have a magical day!