When I was growing up, there were two fictional female characters I admired above all others — Hermione Granger from the “Harry Potter” series and Belle from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
Hermione and Belle taught me to be strong-willed and intelligent and never to think twice about having my nose in a book.
They were two empowering influences on my childhood. So you can imagine my happiness this past weekend, when I saw the two characters combine into one as Emma Watson played Belle in Disney’s new live-action adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast.” Going into the theater, I felt like a little girl again and was absolutely giddy with excitement.
I was sure the movie would not disappoint, but I was happily surprised to find out that it did much more than entertain me — it made me fall in love with the fairy tale all over again.
From the beginning scene, the remake moves majestically through the beloved Disney plot and expands on storylines in order to answer questions while staying true to the thematic elements of the animated classic.
The technological advances did nothing to take away from the original but made everything slightly more alive, whether it be the glimmer in Belle’s yellow ballroom dress or the velvet mortality of the Beast’s rose.
For a little more than two hours, I was transported into every scene, from the Beast’s enchanted castle to Belle’s quaint and unfulfilling village. Every time the beginning notes of a song began, nostalgia blended with newness to create a truly magical experience.
The strongest part of the film, for me, was the accuracy in casting. Not only was Watson a believable and lovable Belle, but the entire cast was so spot-on that there was really no standout star.
Luke Evans at once attracted you and made you roll your eyes in disgust at Gaston, Emma Thompson’s wisdom and sweetness shone through in Mrs. Potts, and Kevin Kline made your heart simultaneously ache and swell as Belle’s father, Maurice.
The chemistry between Watson and the Beast, played by Dan Stevens, was tender and pure as dislike evolved into companionship, and companionship into affection in a way that revealed the transformative powers of true love. Even though his character was created via motion-capture, the layers of CGI did little to mask Stevens’ charisma.
As a young girl, I was captivated by the original “Beauty and the Beast.” Now, as a young woman, I was captivated by the remake.
The tale is old as time, and the song is as old as rhyme, but the brilliance of the live-action movie will have you feeling as if you’re seeing it all for the first time through the eyes of an enraptured child.
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