Movie Reviews

Published on March 16th, 2017 | by Genevieve Mc Bride

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Beauty And The Beast

Whenever I was asked who my favorite Disney prince was, I’d answer, without hesitation, “The Beast.”

Friends would look at me askance and ask, “The Beast? Really?”

And I’d simply reply, “Have you not seen his library?”

I also claim Belle as my favorite Disney princess. As a bookworm, Beauty and the Beast gave me a princess I could relate to. Sure, I had just graduated from high school the year before the animated film – not really the demographic Disney was catering to. But when I first watched Belle’s introductory scene, as she made her way through the village with her nose buried in a book while the townfolk sang of her “odd” behavior, I felt l the corners of my lips rise on their own, in a smile of recognition.

Sure, it also may have been because of the clever lyrics of the late Howard Ashman and the wondrous melodies of Alan Menken in that first song alone, but Belle quickly  me over not only with her joy for stories and spirit of adventure, but also with her brave spirit.

Beauty and the Beast is a fairy tale told many times over and Disney’s live-action version follows the animated classic closely with some variation and additional scenes and few more songs. Like the animated film, it’s sweepingly romantic and just as enchanting. What the audience may struggle with is that Emma Watson’s Belle is not as…well, animated as the animated Belle. She brings a solemnity to the role, and as singing talent goes, while she is no Paige O’Hara, she can sing.

Luke Evans makes a menacingly handsome Gaston and his big number, with his sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad) is an entertaining high point that cements Gaston’s position as my favorite villain. Dan Stevens brought a bit more humanity to Beast, and with a heartbreaking song of his own, his despair is more keenly felt in this movie. But I have to admit, I prefer Josh Groban’s version of Beast’s solo, which you do get to hear if you sit through the credits.

Lumière the candelabra and Cogsworth the clock were brought to life with great voice work Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen, respectively. Emma Thompson voiced Mrs. Potts perfectly. I don’t know if it was her voice, the theme song or the ballroom dance scene that provoked an overwhelming sense of nostalgia, but the captivating combination literally brought tears to my eyes. Kevin Kline, who played Belle’s father, Maurice, Stanley Tucci, and Broadway great Audra McDonald round out a solid supporting cast.

As a huge fan of the 1991 Beauty and the Beast, I didn’t believe a live-action version could improve on the beloved, timeless classic. But just like with the animated film, it was truly the songs that made the movie, and the music does it again for the live-action film, making it a memorable, magical treat for young and old alike.

4 out of 5 stars


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