Beauty and the Beast (spoilers…duh)

Riddhi Jakkal, Editor

When I first booked tickets to the Beauty and the Beast Premiere on March 16th, the sheer curiosity of mine was exploding. Would the new movie keep the magic and pristine beauty of the original? Would it fall short of what was expected? Or would in some ways be better? The answer to all of those questions is yes. But overall, the movie was watchable and certainly cleared up some questions that the animated 1991 one had.

The movie starts intensely, with a dark suspenseful castle, that is later figured to be the Beasts (Dan Stevens), but also acts as Disney’s logo (the opening credits). It was an immediate hook that unfortunately got smothered by narration that could have been better done. After a couple minutes of narration and backstory we are taken to Belle’s (Emma Watson) hometown of Villeneuve, where she sings “Belle”. The song does  lack the beauty of Paige O’Hara’s voice as Watson’s voice doesn’t meet the standards of O’Hara’s vocals, but although the song has a couple of tweaks, it keeps the same feel and rhythm.

We are then transitioned to Belle and her father, Maurice’s, house. There was surprise here, as Maurice was no longer a “lunatic” inventor, but was rather a calm artist and tinkerer. Maurice sets of to another village or city to deliver a handmade music box, and makes his way into the dark forest that surrounds the castle. He is then chased by wolves who indirectly lead him to the castle gates. The CGI for the wolves, was realistic. It showed just a glimpse of how much our movies have advanced.

The castle is showed more in detail as Maurice enters and interacts with the enchanted objects. Unlike the original, Maurice is more frightened than intrigued of the talking objects. When the Beast captures Maurice and his horse, Phillipe, who runs of into the forest to go home, we are immediately pushed into this emotion of suspense and sadness.

When Belle reveals the Beast’s face, we are surprised as she is. For ones who know how Stevens looks like, we can instantly see the features of Stevens’s face in the Beast. The new CGI is spectacular. Over the course of maybe 30 minutes we see Belle interact with Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs.Potts, Chip and the others. “Be Our Guest”  was full of dazzling colors, that was really a blast to watch. There were so many components in the song that were beautifully executed. Hat’s off to the film makers. I’m pretty sure everybody sang along. Another song that was my favorite was “Gaston”.

Now back to the story, I was surprised to see two new additions to the story. One is the story of Belle’s mother. In the original we aren’t really introduced to her mom. But after the Beast takes Belle on a magical trip her old home in Paris, we find out the truth. That Belle’s mother died of the plague and sent Maurice and her daughter away to where they would be safe. There was definitely some pulling of the heart strings. The other is when Maurice is tied up in the woods by Gaston and LeFou who were brought by Maurice to save Belle. Then a new character named Agatha saves Maurice and nurses him back to health. Both are wonderful additions as they add a new twist to the story.

After that we are brought back to the castle ballroom where the Beast and Belle share a dance, and Belle finds out her father is in trouble by the help of the magic mirror. We pretty much go through the same series of events as the original until the end.

When the Beast decides he has no will to fight against Gaston, till Belle shows up again, we are back on the roller coaster. We sense a climax, but the plot still rises. When the Beast is shot, not stabbed, by Gaston before Gaston falls to his timely death, the last petal has already fallen. When Belle confesses her love to the Beast, it seems too late. We are thrown into confusion as to what could happen now. But, plot twist, Agatha, the homeless peasant, reveals herself to be the Enchantress. She lifts the curse and the Beast turns back into his handsome self. Its finally a happy ending for them.

But not just the Prince and Belle, the household objects who have now turned human also find happy ending as they find their loved ones in the village people. Except for Cogsworth that is, who seems to want to turn back into a clock after meeting his significant other. And who says the bad guys never have happy endings? LeFou (well actually Disney) surprises us with a gay moment. It may have only been a couple of seconds, but I definitely was a step forward for the LGBT community.
So overall, the movie was great. It was a little less than the original, but also a little better. There were some parts that I felt were better executed in the original film, than the remake. I have to say the movie did better than other remakes I was looking forward to see. I’m glad Disney elevated the 1991 version. It was worth it. I don’t know which one I prefer more, because they are both amazing.