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'Beauty and the Beast' remake casts spell over audiences

Is any tale just as good the second time?

Many Disney fans find themselves skeptical of any remake, especially a remake of a classic like "Beauty and the Beast." The studio’s recent remakes have created a lot of disappointment, but this classic, released Friday, puts audiences under its spell from the opening scene.

It doesn’t feel like just any revival, either. The dazzling dance numbers bring a fresh charm to the movie, and the seamless animation adds to the beauty of the film.

The new "Beauty and the Beast," directed by Bill Condon, exemplifies everything a remake should be. The combination of the music, the actors, and the picturesque scenery have viewers feeling as if they’re experiencing the story for the first time.

Although the ending is apparent (it is a fairy tale, after all), somehow there is a feeling of suspense and hope that maybe, just maybe, everything will work out the way it should.

This film has new back stories that make for a longer, more developed story. Belle’s mother makes a short appearance, and the beast gets a more extensive story. So for Disney fans expecting something uneventful, they’ll be happily surprised.

The movie opens with a flourishing dance at the castle, complete with all the gaudy makeup and clothing of the time. The extravagant sense of costume detail continues throughout the movie. The details – from the clothing to the actors – are what make it a must-see.

Emma Watson is the perfect Belle; an independent, headstrong female lead who carries Watson’s feminist message to the screen.

Watson’s Belle has a new level of feistiness. No one can get her to do anything she doesn’t want to.

Belle defends herself and her father (Kevin Kline), fending off a mob of villagers. She wears her princess dress, but just as easily fights off wolves to save herself. For fans of Watson’s most famous role, there are plenty of hints of Hermione Granger in this newer Belle.

Most of the other cast members don’t appear on screen until the very end. The teapots, the candles, the clocks, the pianos and even the beast (Dan Stevens) are all animated.

Mrs. Potts, played by Emma Thompson, is the singing teapot who carries many of the castle’s musical scenes. She and her son, Chip (Nathan Mack), along with the candle Lumière (Ewan McGregor), and Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), a clock, appear as animated characters for the majority of the movie.

The mix of human and computer-generated characters could have clashed, but, like the rest of the movie, they fit perfectly well together.

During some of the musical numbers, the Autotune was audible, but easily forgotten. The dances were well-choreographed and flowed with the rest of the movie.

The filmmakers added in two new songs, as well. The Beast sings "Evermore." The dreamy "Days in the Sun" is sung by the titular characters and the castle furniture.

The hint of pointedly over-the-top characters is there. Gaston, played by Luke Evans, comes to mind. Yet it doesn’t feel quite like a kids’ playful musical. It’s a movie any age group could watch for pure enjoyment.

"Beauty and the Beast" received some backlash because it has a gay character. Lefou (Josh Gad), Gaston’s sidekick, has one dance with another male villager, but it’s barely apparent to anyone who’s not looking for it.

"Beauty and the Beast" pulls together all the best elements of a classic Disney movie, but it’s fresh and stands on its own. It’s happy and it’s heartwarming. It’s the type of fairy tale everyone should go experience.

Catherine Reed is a sophomore at Orchard Park High School.

 

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