'Beast' looks lavish, moves nicely, but it's not the original

Disney's animated version came out in 1991, decades before "Frozen", "Brave", or "Moana", which are receiving the credit as Disney's breakthrough movies with empowering female characters. If Beauty and the Beast can manage similar staying power, and early indications suggest that it will, it should become the highest-grossing of Disney's live-action remakes - and could post ticket sales in the $1.2 billion range. It's good because it feels like an nearly shot-for-shot remake of the classic animated film, which will make fans of that take ecstatic. Whether she is waving off the unwanted and incessant gestures of Gaston, the narcissistic town hunk or befriending the inanimate, yet magically animate objects of the castle, Watson drives the story of Belle forward towards success.

"Singing makes you much more vulnerable than speaking". The film was nominated for six Academy Awards total, and took home Oscars for its score and Best Original Song. In the original, it felt like generations passed between the beginning of Beast's curse and Belle's arrival.

The film, directed by Bill Condon and released March 17, tells the love story between Belle (Emma Watson) and the Beast (Dan Stevens) that was first introduced in a 1946 French film that received the Disney treatment in 1991. But Condon and the all-star cast do give the film new spins, as enthralling as Belle's in the iconic ballroom scene.

These are minor nitpicks, though, as the real question at hand is whether or not this is an entertaining movie. The highlight of these musical numbers is by far the rendition of "Be Our Guest", which is not only a joy to listen to, but filled with dazzling on-screen spectacle.

"Beauty and the Beast" is great. The new content was wonderful but did not completely make me forget about the lack of originality in the remake script.

Meanwhile, pompous Gaston (Luke Evans) tries to woo her into a relationship and domestic life, despite her making it blatantly clear she is not interested. One scene was added, but it did not change the plot, rather gave some touching insight into Maurice and Belle's past.

The costumers add to the fairy-tale feel.

The inclusion of the scene has become a point of discussion in the United States, effectively confirming that the character of LeFou is gay.

To the relief of viewers, the storyline is mostly faithful to the original.

He is Gaston's right-hand man, idolizing everything Gaston does and ensuring that Gaston is constantly happy.

Already, there are whispers the film is expected to set records at the box office with a smashing opening weekend.

The other performers are all fantastic as well. Ian McKellen and Ewan McGregor play the dynamic duo Cogsworth and Lumière, providing humor through playful banter and quick wit. Maurice gets lost on a trip, and seeks shelter in an old castle, but then is held hostage by a selfish, arrogant prince turned beast (Dan Stevens in a convincing CGI rendering).

Again, let me be perfectly clear by repeating that I don't like musicals. A little depth? Or as Ms. Potts would sing, "I think there's something there that wasn't there before..."

Unfortunately, my and Condon's definitions of "moment" are a bit different.

Overall, I thought the new "Beauty and the Beast" was really good.

  • Jacqueline Ellis