Directed by Bill Condon
Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad
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Review by Gemma Corking
Disney has shaped children’s films for over 90 years and adults have been taking their children to see them in hidden glee for just as long. So, despite being on the wrong side of 20, I couldn’t wait to see the new Beauty and the Beast. However, I did have a couple concerns; would Emma Watson be suited to the role? Would it ever be as good as the original?
The verdict: Absolutely.
The opening scenes stay true to the animated classic and are spectacular. Immediately, the whole audience is excited because you know you’re not going to be leaving the cinema disappointed. The first big musical number starts with the whole village commenting on how Belle is “so peculiar” because of her interests lying more in books than finding a husband. The stand-out difference in the live action remake is that now Belle is the inventor, not her father. She spends her time creating inventions like a washing machine in post-bubonic France, which allows her to spend more time teaching young girls to read rather than washing dirty underwear. There were additional extras I adored; such as Belle having more of a backstory and the Beast’s reaction to Belle leaving (it makes you love him even more). Even though these weren’t necessary, their inclusion in the story increases the validity to make it a ‘”tale as old as time”.
The casting is incredible. Emma Watson is absolute perfection as Belle. It’s as if this Disney Princess was written with her in mind – all of her work for gender equality such as the ‘He for She’ Campaign adds gravity to her role as the princess that wanted more than just a prince. Belle is clever, determined, brave and different, but not afraid to be. She loves the Beast because of who he is on the inside rather than because of his appearance. Watson and Belle are both sterling inspirations for young girls, making Watson the ideal candidate to play Belle in live action form.
It’s clear that Disney were trying to update Beauty and the Beast to give a more accurate depiction of our diverse world. They’ve done this two ways; the first, adding different ethnicities in what was a predominately white animation. The second; the introduction of Disney’s first gay character. Both examples are long overdue and an excellent addition to a classic tale. Josh Gad (whom you may recognise as Frozen’s Olaf) is excellent as LeFou. His sexuality is more of a suggestion than a statement, as his admiration for Gaston could be more bromance than romance. However, the final scene suggests that this is not the case.
Beauty and the Beast is a must watch for the whole family. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute, as did the rest of the audience, as the end was actually met with a round of applause in Tyneside. It stays true to the animation, but emphasises the diversity that’s often missing from Disney films, as well as Belle being even more of a strong independent woman than she was in the animation – she is not a princess that needs to be saved.
Quickly, go and be their guest!