By Kaydee Donohoo
The live action “Beauty and the Beast” was worthy of our expectations for Disney magic. The animated version appeared when we were a few years from being born. We’ve literally grew up with this film. Seeing the castle come to life is the dream come true we didn’t know we needed. Emma Watson in a bright yellow dress dancing with the Beast in royal blue is visually stunning, and evokes childhood memories in a powerful way.
Alan Menken’s prologue composition, the piece similar to Saint-Saën’s “Aquarium” was also a powerful memory-provoker. It could have been used a bit more, as there were additional places it appeared in the original film. Hearing it in the beginning of the film was extremely powerful.
The choice for this remake to be a musical was important for the film’s success. While “Be Our Guest,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” aren’t improvements from the animated film, they don’t dip in quality either. “Gaston” and “Mob Song” were show stoppers compared to the original film. Josh Gad and Luke Evans were perfect casting choices.
Additional songs such as “Evermore” and “Days in the Sun,” pulled their weight, and give the audience the intimate feel of a live performance.
One complaint for the music is Emma Watson’s singing. It is noticeably auto-tuned in a some instances, and is a bit painful to compare with Paige O’Hara’s voice we all remember.
Don’t expect too much from the “exclusively gay moment,” that has been a conversation topic. It is a nice subplot, but it is extremely brief and subtle. Either way, LeFou’s character arc is a great addition. Josh Gad added a lot of depth to the cartoon he was drawing from. LeFou’s given more conflict and ultimately a resolution that’s capturing to watch.
A few differences were added for Belle’s character as well. In the animated film Beast asks if she could be happy in the castle. She says yes before hesitantly mentioning her father. It’s not a shining moment for feminism, especially since Belle is often painted as a “strong feminist character.”
The live-action version gave Emma Watson a more powerful line in this scene, however. Beast and Belle also get to know each other a little more, and bond over books. The romance is now a bit more believable. There’s still issues pointing to an abusive relationship from the plot itself. At least Disney made a few changes with the breathing room they had.
Overall the live action “Beauty and the Beast” is on par with the animated film, and adds more dimensions when possible. The music, cast, and gorgeous visuals will stay in the minds of both fanatic and casual Disney fans for some time.