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Beauty and the Beast Measures Up

Samantha Denny, Writer

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On March 17, the world received the remake that they had been holding their breath for since May 2016.  Beauty and the Beast smashed box office records and raked in about $350 million worldwide on the opening weekend, claiming the number 6 spot on the list of largest box office opening weekends of all time.  

When I settled into my theater seat on Saturday afternoon, I looked around and saw countless families with excited children dressed in Belle dresses.  My friends and I grinned and awaited the opening of the film with bated breath, unable to contain our excitement when we finally saw the castle.  And believe me, our excitement was well rewarded.  

The film opens with narration from  Hattie Morahan (Mr. Holmes), and operatic singing from Tony award winner Audra McDonald, who plays Madame de Garderobe.  She is accompanied by harpsichord music played by Stanley Tucci, who voices the new character Maestro Cadenza the harpsichord.  

In a shot-for-shot reenactment of the opening in the animated film, Emma Watson–dressed in the classical Belle blue dress–steps out of her little home and into the town, snubbing Luke Evans’ Gaston’s repeated attempts to woo her as she sings her way through her provincial life.  While Josh Gad’s portrayal of LeFou also raised controversy due to Disney’s announcement that LeFou would be the first openly gay character, his performance had me and other moviegoers in stitches.  

Fans of the original film will be glad to know that Emma Watson stays true to Belle’s defiant and independent character by creating her own inventions and assisting her father (Kevin Kline), with his own.  She bravely takes her father’s place in the Beast’s castle, where Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens plays the brooding, cursed Beast.  

In the castle, Ewan McGregor does a wonderful job portraying Lumiere’s flirtatious behavior and charming French accent while Ian McKellan emulates Cogsworth’s stuffy and wound up attitude to perfection.  Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Free State of Jones) portrays the feather duster Plumette, who is romantically involved with Lumiere just like in the original movie, and Emma Thompson, while not Angela Lansbury, still does a marvelous job of portraying Mrs. Potts and singing “Tale as Old as Time.”  Newcomer Nathan Mack also manages to act out Chip’s cheerful attitude throughout the movie.

The song “Be Our Guest” also matches the dramatic flair from the 1991 film, so fans should not be worried about the songs becoming dull in the remake of the film.  In fact, fans of the original can expect the inclusion of four new songs that had me on the edge of my seat waiting for more.  

The transition from animation to live action beautifully utilizes CGI for the special effects.  The servants all look amazingly realistic, from Plumette the feather duster’s white feathers to Cogsworth’s springs and gears.  The Beast’s transformation to Beast and then to man again are done spectacularly, and his appearance includes spiralling horns and shaggy fur.  The transformation scenes capture his initial agony and fury as he slashes a painting to ribbons with his new claws, but his emotional return to human form is showered in the same heavenly light that we saw in the animated film.  

Overall, I adored the new Beauty and the Beast movie and I would see it again in theaters.  I would also recommend that fans of the original Beauty and the Beast Disney movie go see the film in theaters, because you will not be disappointed with what you get.  This film definitely measures up to the original movie, and the few changes that were made to this movie only add to the story without altering it from the tale as old as time that we know and love.

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Beauty and the Beast Measures Up