What are you waiting for, Disney fans and musical aficionados? Hurry on out to see why “Beauty and the Beast” is such a hit.
The gorgeous 1991 animated classic now becomes a feature film. There are new songs and the beloved characters are more fleshed out. What’s not to like?
Emma Watson is boot-wearing bookworm Belle. The other villagers think she’s odd — all she seems to want to do is keep her nose in a book. And she doesn’t want to have anything to do with the arrogant, handsome Gaston (played wonderfully by Luke Evans).
Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”) is the Beast. He is transformed into a horned monster to teach him a lesson about having a heart.
After an accident, Belle’s father (Kevin Kline,) ends up in the Beast’s garden, where he plucks a rose to take to Belle upon his return home. When the terrified man ends up a prisoner in the Beast’s jail, the clever Belle trades places with her father. She then meets the talking clock, candelabra and the other furniture who hope that she’s the one who can break the curse that affects everyone in the castle. “Look at her! What if she's the one? The one who will break the spell?” Lumiere asks.
Belle has no problem putting the Beast in his place, even though he’s the one who supposedly is in control. “You take me as your prisoner, and now you want to have dinner with me? Are you insane?” she says to his dinner invitation.
Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls” and “Mr. Holmes”) deftly helms this charming adaptation of the ancient tale and the earlier Disney version. Screenwriters Evan Spiliotopoulos and Stephen Chbosky give the characters and the plot more depth. The Beast is much more likeable this time around. You usually can see the prince just under the surface.
Among the songs, “Days in the Sun” is one of my favorites. It’s a beautiful revelation of the past.
The vocal cast is wonderful: Ewan McGregor is Lumiere, Cogsworth the clock is voiced by Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson is Mrs. Potts, Nathan Mack is Chip, the little cup, Audra McDonald is Madame Garderobe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw is Plumette and Stanley Tucci is Maestro Cadenza.
I like the way all the characters develop, particularly when they grapple with what loss has created in their lives. The cinematography is beautiful, and so are the colors.
If you loved the first one, you’ll find that the feature-film version is a beauty, too.