A Tale as Old as Time
Warning: Full spoilers for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (directed by Bill Condon) follow. If you have not watched this movie, read on at your own risk.
This most recent weekend marked the opening of Beauty and the Beast to movie theaters. I am a Disney fan, by no means a fanatic, and my girlfriend wanted to watch it so of course I took a chance on it. So far I have not been too impressed with the live action remakes Disney has given us. Beauty and the Beast changed all of that.
The story never really deviated from the one we all know and love, but that’s not where the magic of this movie was found. Beauty and the Beast told the same story, and that story is still good. The magic, however, was in the world. It was in seeing all the characters brought to life. It was in watching a girls life go from dull to unimaginable in the blink of an eye. Emma Watson was excellent as Belle. I’m not sure there were ever any doubts that she would be, but she exceeded my expectations.
The acting in this movie was high quality through and through. The only movie that I have really enjoyed Luke Evans in before was The Hobbit, but he made Gaston as slimy and despicable as I had hoped for. Gaston, by the way, is my most hated Disney villain. It’s not because he’s exceptionally evil. All things considered it’s difficult to say that he is evil at all. I despise him so much simply because he is a monumental dirtbag, and Luke Evans plays it up.
Lumière is clearly the standout of the supporting cast. Ewan McGregor is absolute perfect in the role, even though most of the time it’s only his voice we are hearing. You can feel the hope of the entire castle staff through Lumière. Not only can he light up a room, he lights up this movie. I enjoyed every second that he was on screen. Even as an inanimate object brought to life, Lumière illuminates heart and passion. His musical number was not too shabby either. In fact, the Be Our Guest scene was probably the most magnificent of the entire movie. They really went all out to awe the audience.
When the Last Petal Falls
Beauty and the Beast is sometimes mistaken as a story to show us that looks aren’t everything, it’s what is inside that matters. In a way, that is true. For me, however, it is more about how the people in our lives make life worth living. Beast became a beast because he was selfish and refused to share his life with others. He wanted people around him all the time, only to show off how spectacular he thought he was. He was cursed for his selfishness, not his good looks. If he had shown compassion, and let other people in, it never would have happened.
This live action version of the tale as old as time displays that even better than the original. Partly because of the exceptionally strong performance by Dan Stevens, and partly because of the insane amount of detail they put into Beast. This movie could have failed massively if the animation wasn’t convincing, but it was hard to believe that Beast was not real. There was so much detail put into it, and it all payed off. That’s not to take credit away from Dan Stevens. Stevens really was excellent. He displayed a wide range of emotions and made you feel each one of them. When he was angry, you feared him. As he slowly came around, you started to warm up to him along with Belle.
Beast is what made the movie great for me. His musical number as Belle is riding off to help her father is possibly the most moving moment in the entire story. I know that could be said about two or three other moments, but for me that’s the one. If the movie had failed to take us on a journey of being terrified of Beast to hoping for Belle to love him the way we do, then this review would sound much different. It’s this musical moment that completes that journey. As Belle rode off, I felt every word that Beast was singing. It was full of sadness, torment, and hope. The love of his life was riding away from him, but he would always love her. Even though it seemed that he was doomed to stay cursed forever, he finally let someone in.
Beauty and the Beast – In Conclusion
There’s not much reason to really dig into the details of the story. It’s one that almost everyone knows. Disney took something that has been loved for a long time, and made it even more magical by bringing it to life. The acting is superb, the special effects are superb, the music is superb. If you are a fan of Disney, or a fan of movies in general, you should go watch Beauty and the Beast.