Much more ‘Beauty’ than ‘Beast’ in remake

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Much more ‘Beauty’ than ‘Beast’ in remake

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Bill Condon (“Breaking Dawn”) crafts the timeless tale of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and creates a visual masterpiece with a star-studded cast in the live-action version of the film. Maintaining the memorable love story between the intelligent, warm-hearted Belle and seemingly fierce and cold-hearted Beast, Condon delves deep into the story by adding complexity to the characters with multiple twists along the way.

The film starts in France with the enchantress, Agathe (Hattie Morahan) who comes to the prince’s mansion during the debutante ball disguised as a beggar. Agathe ultimately curses the charming prince by turning him into a beast (Dan Stevens) after she is refused hospitality by him, and then turns all of his servants into living objects. Many recognizable stars lended their voices to the film: Ewan McGregor as Lumière the candelabra, Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza the harpsichord, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth the mantel clock, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts the teapot, Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe the wardrobe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette the feather duster and Nathan Mack as Chip the teacup. After the enchantress gives the beast a rose, she states that the beast must find true love before the last rose petal falls to break the spell.

Meanwhile, practical Belle (Emma Watson) residing in the village of Villeneuve, strolls around with her nose in a book, seemingly out of place, her only company being her inventive father, Maurice (Kevin Kline). Everyone in the village skeptically stares at her as if she is simply funny and knowledgeable, and she is frequently noticed by the narcissistic, handsome-looking Gaston (Luke Evans) always accompanied by Disney’s first openly gay character LeFou (Josh Gad). Minding her own business, Belle seeks a better life for herself inventing things like a machine so that the horses can do the laundry while she has time to read and spread her knowledge. Soon enough, Belle is sets out on a mission to rescue her father who is captured by the beast and ultimately takes his place before finding true love and breaking Agathe’s spell.

Condon turns around a 25-year-old classic favorite into one for the younger generation with a hand-picked cast. This is the biggest film for Emma Watson after the Harry Potter series and she has flawlessly undertaken the role of Belle. Through the characterization of Belle, Watson was able to move away from the uneasy situation of what may be termed as “Stockholm Syndrome” after Belle falls in love with the beast after being taken in as hostage. Instead, Watson portrays Belle as a courageous and practical woman who doesn’t easily fall in love but instead fights for what she wants first, making the love story increasingly charming. She is complemented by a talented cast, familiar faces seen earlier in “Downton Abbey,” “Star Wars,” and “The Lord of the Rings.” Both Gaston played by Luke Evans and the Beast played by Dan Stevens stand out on their own with their powerful characterizations. Gaston is held as a strong and angry man, justified by the terror of his war stories as a soldier, but is submissive at the sight of Belle. The Beast starts out the same and develops himself by eventually learning the meaning of love. The cast helps bring in inclusive elements to the story including Disney’s first gay character LeFou, played by Josh Gad, who shares a strong rapport with Gaston and ultimately find loves with one of the Beast’s servants. The cast is also noticeably diverse and the director immaculately creates a loving environment that is seemingly unforced in both the village and the Beast’s household.

The astounding cast makes the film a visual and musical delight with revamped versions of the classic hits such as “Belle,” “Be Our Guest,” and “Days in the Sun” sung by the cast themselves. With the detailed choreography and visual effects, each piece is made into a magical treat. “Be Our Guest” stands out with with a choreography piece led by Lumière the candelabra and completed with dancing dishes tossed into the air and overwhelming amounts of food. The composers Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice managed to tack on more ear-candy with musical pieces such as “How Does a Moment Last Forever,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Evermore” sung by Celine Dion, Ariana Grande  John Legend, and Josh Groban respectively, enchanting the audience.

With the visuals and the actors of the film, Condon extraordinarily heightens the enchantment of the original “Beauty and the Beast.” If you have grown up alongside this charming tale, this live-action version is a fascinating interpretation you won’t want to miss.