Beauty and the Beast blows away audiences


Casey Lanza-Lang, Staff Writer

Despite doubts about Disney’s ability to take a beloved childhood movie and successfully turn it into a live-action marvel, Beauty and the Beast was exactly what fans hoped it would be. It was sweet, heartwarming, and incredibly feel-good. Belle is played by Hermione herself, Emma Watson (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Bling Ring, Harry Potter) and the Beast is played by talented English actor Dan Stevens (A Walk Amongst the Tombstones, Downton Abbey, Legion). The story of these two unsuspecting opposites falling in love was brought to life in a way that would warm any Beauty and the Beast fan’s heart.
The film begins with Adam’s story. He’s selfish, pompous, and obsessed with spoiling himself. He’s someone that not many people want anything to do with, including audiences. Who wants to watch a privileged prince boss people around and treat them like dirt? When an old homeless woman stumbles into his castle, asking for shelter from the storm, we see the saving grace of the film. The woman is denied entry by the pompous prince and she won’t have it. Before he has time to even think about how mean and cruel he was being, Adam comes face to face with the old woman’s true form: a beautiful enchantress. To punish him for his wickedness, she curses Adam. Within seconds, his body changes into that of a beast, complete with fur and horns and paws. His people are then turned into various household objects, such as a candlestick, clock, tea kettle and tea cup, and a piano. He is left with a red rose whose petals fall periodically as time passes. When the final pedal falls, Adam will be cursed to stay a beast forever and everyone around him will permanently become the antiques they’ve been cursed to be. Only this time, they won’t have the luxury of moving or speaking at all.
A few years later, cue in a girl who is considered to be a little off by her village. She loves to read, wants to travel, and she isn’t afraid to be on her own. She’s what every young girl could hope to be. She’s smart, brave, and kind, a perfect role model for boys and girls of every age. She lives alone with her father (her mother has passed away) and she’s the apple of Village Tough Guy Gaston’s eye. Her days are spent reading, avoiding Gaston, and helping her father when he needs it. When he goes on a trip to the market and never comes back, she’s quick to come to his rescue. Little does she know, his captor is the ever-angry and brutish Prince Adam turned Beast. When she comes face to face with the choice to let her father rot in the Beast’s castle prison or take his place, she quickly makes the selfless (and very predictable) decision to stay. Thus begins the slow-burning love story of Beauty and the Beast.
Amidst all the scenes of angst and pain are beautiful melodies produced by wonderful voices. Beloved songs like “Be Our Guest,” “Gaston,” and “Beauty and the Beast” lived up to their huge potential. Gaston, played by Luke Evans (Dracula Untold, The Girl on the Train, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) shocked audiences with such an amazing voice. His smug grin and sure confidence in himself while belting out one-liners was striking. Emma Watson’s voice did the same. Who would’ve thought that Hermione could produce such a beautiful, airy, and sweet sound? Even the Beast, with his booming deep voice impressed. He could hold notes like no other, his strong voice holding the audience’s attention in a way that not many people can.
With a perfect balance of music, sorrow, happiness, angst, and love, Beauty and the Beast certainly lived up to my expectations. It’s always nerve-wracking when studios announce the plan to bring a beloved animation to life. To have taken such a wonderful story and ruined it, would have broken the hearts of fans of all ages, my young adult heart included. Although I had my doubts in Emma Watson’s ability to differentiate herself from her years-long role as Hermione Granger, she blew me away. Her chemistry with Dan Stevens, whom I had not previously known, made the movie exactly what it was supposed to be: a delightful love story. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed Disney fan, or simply a fan of innocent love stories with happy endings, Beauty and the Beast is the film for you.