Disney delights with ‘Beauty and the Beast’

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OLIVIA BURGER
a&l editor

The bar was set high for adapting a tale as old as time and a song as old as rhyme, but as usual, Disney delivered.
Disney’s live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” was a delightfully bittersweet homage to the original 1991 film, feeding off of nostalgia while still adding some meaningful adaptations.
With a classic original storyline, modern-day animation technology and flawless casting, director Bill Condon would have had to do something very, very wrong for this film to come across as anything less than superb.
Every fairytale begins and ends with the perfect princess, and the dynamically darling Emma Watson conveyed a brilliant Belle.
Notorious not only for her beauty but also for her brains, Belle is one of the few original Disney princesses that seems to have any character substance beyond good looks.
Watson, an English literature graduate from Brown University, a United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador and an outspoken feminist, perfectly symbolizes Belle’s attitude and spunk, making every resistant remark her character voiced that much more powerful.
Dan Stevens accompanies Watson as the prince-turned- beast-turned-prince-again, and surely did a decent job as such, although it is hard to tell what was really acting and what was CGI.
A supporting cast made up of stars including Kevin Kline, Luke Evens, Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald and Emma Thompson also helped keep the cinematic magic alive with electric, enjoyable voices and faces.
Really, how can you go wrong with Thompson as a motherly talking teapot?
While talking silverware certainly charmed viewers, it didn’t save the film from running into some hot water for development involving another minor character in the film.
Josh Gad, known previously as the voice of Olaf in Dinsey’s animation hit “Frozen,” played LeFou, the sidekick to Belle’s persistant suitor Gaston.
Condon announced earlier this month that LeFou was “explicitly gay,” making this the first Disney movie to include an openly gay character.
While the film didn’t vocally address LeFou’s sexuality, it did heavily hint toward the character’s attraction to Gaston more than expected.
For a child viewer, however, the subtle hints and dialogue were too advanced for them to question, with the exception of one second in the final scene that might actually be classified as an “exclusively gay moment.”
Nonetheless, the choice to present LeFou as homosexual provides a comedic storyline for older viewers who grew up with the original animated film, and frankly makes sense considering even in the original film LeFou seems oddly infatuated with Gaston.
While Disney did a great job developing LeFou’s courtships, it could’ve used a little more effort in expanding the most important romance between Belle and the Beast.
Plotting a love connection between a human girl and a buffalo-werewolf monster is frankly weird and certainly challenging especially, considering this was a live-action remake with Belle portrayed in real life and the Beast mostly composed of CGI effects.
The connection between Belle and the mix of Stevens and computer was enough to make the story believable and enjoyable, but at times it was hard to get behind the animation component of the Beast.
Disney attempted to compensate for the Beast’s lack of human character with additional information about losing his mother at a young age and they threw in the love solo “Evermore” for romantic dramatics.
The audience probably could’ve done without the song that came across as cheesy and paled in comparison to the original score.
And although the extra information about the Beast was nice, it still didn’t quite humanize the CGI monster on the screen.
These aspects of the film can be overlooked because the moral of the story is that true beauty lies within after all, and the movie still had numerous moments of romantic magic.
The most magical moment of this love story is the ballroom scene, and it was beautifully recreated in this version.
The amazing cinematography featuring Watson prancing around a palace in the famous yellow ball gown while “Beauty and the Beast” plays in the background is almost too perfect.
Perhaps one of the most iconic Disney scenes of all time, this performance literally brings to life all of the magic and fantasy that older viewers remember falling in love with in 1991.
With memories of childhood intertwined in every picturesque scene and every familiar song, it’s hard not to fall head over heels for a film that is, in essence, a love ballad to itself.
Disney certainly is successful in manipulating the audience’s emotions, blurring the lines between what is actual appreciation for this remake and what is pure comfort and nostalgia.
However, most of us are too content to care because when it comes down to cinematic perfection, “Beauty and the Beast” hits every mark.
It will be interesting to see how Disney’s live-action remake teams take on their upcoming projects, which include “Mulan,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King,” and whether Disney will stay true to original storylines — continuing to thrive off sentiment — or if it will take any risks in adapting these classic narratives.

OLIVIA BURGER
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