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If there was a magic mirror to look back in time, you could look back and see that my childhood revolved around four Disney movies; The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast. The Disney classic remakes to live-action have been wonderful, but none of the stories were ones that I knew and loved. I could recite any song or dialogue in my favorites, though. When Beauty and the Beast came out of the Disney vault, I bought it to share with my girls. One day they will look back and think about their childhood movie favorites. Maybe one day they will make live actions of Frozen, Zootopia, and Moana! To say that I was excited about this movie is an understatement. Being able to relive my joy and love for this movie was everything to me. It does not disappoint either.
Not only does Bill Condon capture the characters and scenes perfectly, he included additional tidbits that brought it even further. Alan Menken brought the classic songs and film score back to life in a whole new way. The addition of some new songs that also helped broaden the storyline. Some of the original lyrics written by Howard Ashman for the songs “Gaston” and “Beauty and the Beast” that were not used in the animated film have been added to the live-action adaptation. While there were times he had pulled the camera out so that we could see more details, the set designs were jaw-dropping. We saw this movie in IMAX, and it was an eye full! I'll be seeing it again in a standard format, so hopefully, it will be easier to see. That shouldn't dissuade you though from seeing it in IMAX. It was still stunning, I just have bad eyes!
While most people may be talking about Emma Watson's role as Belle, I'd much rather talk about Dan Stevens and his Beast. I'm not a Downton Abbey fan, so I've only discovered Dan Stevens in recent months when he has announced as Beast as well as his intense portrayal of Marvels Legion where he plays Dan Haller. He has taken the place as my new “It Boy.” You could get lost in those amazing blue eyes (and voice), and you will when you see the pain in them as Beast. The one thing that stood out to me the most, was that any monologue that the Beast had (a lot of the characters really) was nearly word for word and pitch for pitch on point with the animated movie. There are moments when the Beast is humanized to remind you that he is, in fact, a person under all that hair. That is why I feel this was the most accurate live-action remake to date. There was no retelling of the story. Instead, we had some questions answered that weren't in the animated film. Such as why no one ever noticed a castle in their small town or what happened to Belle's mother. It was nice to learn these previously untold tales.
Emma Watson made a wonderful Belle, but the sound crew gave her way too much auto-tune. I feel like they could have dialed it back a little. Compared to other characters it sounded like someone used a cheap iPhone app to auto-tune her. I'm sure she still sounded beautiful without the harsh robotic help. Trying to make her sound like Paige O'Hara (the original Belle) is silly. Especially when you have her next to Audra McDonald who plays Garderobe, blowing anyone out of the water with her voice.
Gaston changes his villain status when Luke Evans takes on this role. Gaston takes the words egomaniac to a new level. He will do anything to take Belle's hand in marriage. I absolutely love his song and dance in the pub. Luke Evans also surprised me with his wonderful voice. Everyone did a fantastic job and captured their characters beautifully.
Josh Gad brings his corky wit to the part of the star-struck Le Fou. While he pays off villagers to sing about how great Gaston is you can see that he truly cares about him. I love Bill Condon had his character show a side of Le Fou we don't get, someone with a conscience. That wants to do right by those around him. We also get a progressive step in the right direction for showing more than heterosexual characters. It is not just Le Fou either, the transgender community gets a tiny wink as well when one of the villagers receives a fancy makeover from Garderobe and she protests to, ” Go and be free!” This makes my heart happy and I'm so glad that Bill Condon has been open about the “exclusively gay moment” so that it is not a question. While there have been plenty of times we have noticed gay characters in other movies, (*cough* Oaken in Frozen) this is the first time a director has confirmed it and spoken about it.
Bill Condon has a knack for extravagant end credits. He carried over his Twilight style send-off for Beauty and the Beast as well. So it's a last-minute look at all the great characters and who played them. Beauty and the Beast hits theaters March 17th, get your tickets now (they will sell out opening weekend)! In the meantime, I'll be watching the 1991 version until it comes out!
Beauty and the Beast Easter Eggs
Keep your eyes peeled:
The opening Wat Disney Tinker Bell flyover is the Beast's castle.
The coat of arms in the Beast’s castle is a lion and a boar with a WD anagram (the WD is meant to represent a fictional character, William Devereaux, but could also stand for Walt Disney). You can see this pictured below.
The Blue Birds – Belle is seen teaching a girl to read and the page says “The Blue Bird that flies over the dark wood” This is a nod to the bluebirds in the original animation that fly over the castle and also jump into the Beast's hands in the garden. You'll also see them in her costume!
The lend-a-hand lights on the terrace and staircase in the Beast’s castle and the rose colonnade on the castle grounds are an homage to Jean Cocteau’s 1946 Avant-Garde film, “La Belle et le Bête, which was a source of inspiration for Bill Condon. He also used white roses that were also seen in this film.