1991 was quite a while ago and the chance of seeing Disney’s Beauty and the Beast should not be taken lightly. The chance to see it in theaters, that is. Of course, re-releases occur, but there is something about the screen that adds to the experience. For this magical tale, it is even more true. Simply put, “Be Our Guest” should not be enjoyed from the comforts of your own home. I’ll be the first to tell you that a movie can be watched on your comfy couch, but in this case, you should make the trip. Just the simple fact that our childhood favorites are being brought to life should be motivation alone. It’s an addition that they are doing so with immense talent and interesting changes. If you have not seen it already, I hope my word can calm some of your worries. The casting was perfect and the changes advanced the story. I was never the biggest Beauty and the Beast fan, but this take did not hinder the story in any way. Don’t get me wrong I still loved Beauty and the Beast, but just had other preferred Disney favorites. With that aside, I must say that so far The Jungle Book is my favorite renewal to date.
Emma Watson, who has carefully decided on roles since the Harry Potter franchise, struck gold and we did too when she was given the role of Belle. She fits the description of the outsider villager that catches the eye of a bystander. Her father, presented by the charming Kevin Kline, warms out hearts. It’s important to note that Belle’s backstory is changed to display her as the inventor and her father as more of an artist. This change only enriches the character and adds to the villagers’ backwards thinking. Gaston, in my opinion, was even more menacing than the animated version. I think this is important because we frequently consider him to be a light villain that is attractive to most women. In truth his character tells the story of many ills females have experienced from males. He’s purely abusive and even borders on evil when he works his way on the village. Luke Evans brings Gaston to life in a scary way and no doubt in my mind that Hugh Jackman would have received this role if he were slightly younger. Without Josh Gad playing LeFou we all would have been at a loss. Bringing, what I would argue, the most life to this adaptation, Josh Gad was enigmatic. Another change comes when LeFou is more sympathetic to Belle and her father. Oh and yes there’s a “gay moment” with LeFou’s character, but it really just feels natural to the character.
Of course Cogsworth, Lumiere, and Mrs. Potts voiced by Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, and Emma Thompson respectively also added to the feature. It was nice to hear familiar voices behind these lovable characters and Emma Thompson clearly pays homage to Angela Lansbury’s style. Even Stanley Tucci with a new role Maestro Cadenza was a pleasant surprise. Beast also had major changes to his story. First of all the curse in this was a bit different than before. Not only does the parameters of the curse change, but also who is affected by it does as well. The curse evolves into the threat that with each petal drop those under the curse will then become inanimate. Also, the village is slightly cursed as well and new theories are coming out about this currently. Dan Stevens, who so sadly left us on Downton Abbey prematurely, is not your average prince. Not average because he is the most realistic depiction of a prince in a long time. So often princes are played by extremely buff and masculine actors, but in truth princes are well-educated and more frail. Dan Stevens just so happens to fulfill this even if he has since gained muscle since his Downton Abbey days. His new backstory and song, “Evermore” were my favorite parts of the film. “Evermore” was fantastic and I hope it is nominated in its Oscar category. Here is the song:
Although it doesn’t include the actual film, you can hear the beast-like voice and Dan Stevens just-professionally-trained voice combine into one. That along with the beautiful background creates a song that gnaws at the heart. There were instances where I felt like the creators could have milked emotions more. I felt like there were more tears during The Jungle Book than there was during this. Some may argue with me on that point, but overall some instances fell flat when immediate plot progression took place. Regardless of this, the film is still an immense success that will enlighten many nostalgic viewers. Putting a fresh polish on the finished product, the changes should be welcomed by audiences.