**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**
The music and singing were fantastic. I was truly impressed with Emma Watson’s voice and felt she embodied Belle in character and voice when compared to the animated movie. Her acting was believable and not over-done, she had chemistry with her father (Kevin Kline), Gaston (Luke Evans) and the Beast (Dan Stevens).
I loved the costuming and only had a few issues with outfits (see ‘cons’).
The movie story line followed the animated movie quite well, added in some new songs (I’ve been told from the stage play) and layered in some other story points to add depth to the tale.
Two wardrobe ‘malfunctions’ of note: Belle’s skirt being tucked into her waistband and then, inexplicably, not. And in one of the final scenes she discards the signature yellow ball gown and rides to the castle in, presumably, nothing but her undergarments.
I was disappointed in Dan Stevens but only because he isn’t (wasn’t?) Robbie Benson. I’ll admit I had a not-so-small crush on Robbie Benson for most of my pre-teen through college years. Okay, who am I kidding, I still do. He was what I pictured the “Beast” to be (even though he was animated and the prince looked nothing like him in the animated version). In every other way The Beast played by Dan Stevens was fantastic.
The ballroom scene was a bit stilted and I was unimpressed with the lack of actual ballroom dancing.
The CGI wolves were corny. I’m surprised that with all of Disney’s skill they couldn’t make more realistic looking wild animals. And there were a few scenes where the CGI of the Beast were a bit off.
Disney and many review sites made a huge deal about the reveal of some ‘exclusively gay moments’ in the movie. It was, as I suspected, media hype by Disney to get more press about the movie. The ‘moments’ were tame and most people wouldn’t even have blinked if the media commotion hadn’t been so pronounced. I’m EXTREMELY pleased that Disney didn’t take a traditionally romantic fairy tale and rewrite it to make a politically correct social commentary. Although the original story is not completely portrayed in either the animated or live-action version, the story is a heterosexual romance between a man and a woman. The main social commentary that should be prevalent in the story is that appearances are not an indication of a person’s value, character or principles. Perhaps Disney can use their deep well of talent to create and develop their own, original story lines if they want to accommodate romantics of other sexual genres.
I didn’t read up on the cast before, so it was a pleasant surprise to see Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts and Lumiere portrayed by some well-known actors.
All in all, I enjoyed the movie a great deal. Several friends and I, with their pre-/teenage daughters attended together as a Girls Night. We saw it on a Monday evening (it opened Friday); the theater was half-full; mostly couples and women. I managed NOT to sing the songs however I did lip sync quite a few of them. It was not as emotionally wrenching and breath-taking as the live action Cinderella (although several of the ladies I attended with cried during the movie). I will see it at least one more time in the theater; and I’ll buy the soundtrack which should be impressive.
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