I love everything Disney. I couldn't imagine a world without Disney. I've watched their movies since I was a little girl. As an adult, I still find it's the only chance I have to escape into a magical world of fantasy, where my emotions are free, where true love triumphs, and where there's always a guarantee of a happily ever after.
So when I received a 'Be Our Guest' invite to an early screening of Beauty and The Beast it was the kind of joy I felt when my parents would surprise me with a Disney movie. I was inundated with offers to be my plus one by friends. Only thing is, this was not just any invite, this was not just any movie. This was Disney's new live action re-telling of an animated classic, where plus one was not even an option.
The poster for the 1992 animated classic. Image source: Disney
Beauty and The Beast was a success in 1992, the first animated movie to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars. The question is - would today's adaptation live up to its name? Although it didn't win best picture, the loss certainly made up by scoring two Academy Awards for original song and original score.
As the movie started to roll I felt the same elation I did with the animated version 25 years ago. The narrator's colourful voice immediately drew me in, guiding the fairytale's twists and turns. Coupled with brilliant cinematography 'a tale as old as time', and a classic love story was about to unfold.
Belle stands for everything that starts with the letter 'B'. Brave, bold, bright, beauteous. Emma Watson brings all these qualities to the iconic princess character, along with grace and courage. Adventurous Belle isn't looking for a Prince, she's quite happy to immerse herself in books. The more she reads, the happier she is.
Maurice (Kevin Kline) and Belle (Emma Watson). Image source: Disney
The story is set in none other than a small provincial French village where Belle (Emma Watson) lives with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) an eccentric inventor. The movie gives more insight into the relationship between Belle and her father and how deep their bond really is.
Rude and narcissistic hunter Gaston (Luke Evans) has his eyes set on Belle for his future wife, but her only interest is reading. After Belle's father is captured by a Beast and taken prisoner, Belle tries to free him by offering to take his place.
The Beast played by Dan Stevens. Image source: Disney
The Beast once a selfish, arrogant, handsome Prince has a curse cast on him by a beautiful enchantress as punishment for judging on appearance, and turning her away when she was seeking shelter from the cold. The kingdom and castle transformed into a gloomy, forbidden subdued fortress and courtiers turned into household objects - a casanova candelabra,mantel clock,feather duster,wardrobe,neurotic maestro harpsichord,teapot and teacup. The curse only broken if The Beast can learn how to love and be loved in return. Can a Beast change for love? His courtiers believe so and work overtime in the hope that true love can break the spell.
Courtiers have been turned into household objects who Belle befriends. Image source: Disney
The Enchantress who creates the basis for the story leaves The Beast with a magic mirror to the outside world, and an enchanted rose. This beautiful red rose features prominently throughout the movie, working like an hourglass with petals that delicately fall gracefully one by one. There's only so much time for the curse to be broken.
The beautiful red rose left by the Enchantress. Image source: Disney
His equally cursed loyal courtiers turned into enchanted household objects believe The Beast can fall in love if he takes on board their expertise and guidance. The actors who voice these characters are fully credited at the end of the movie, next to their 'enchanted ones' and even this is absolutely adorable!
Beauty starts to see beneath the Beast's exterior to discover the heart and soul of a prince. Image source: Disney. caption
The lifelike creation of The Beast (Dan Stevens) delivers just the right amount of strength, ferocity, fear and gentleness to the character, after-all we see why Belle fell for him.
Initially Luke Evans as Gaston was a surprise, taking a while for me to warm to him, but this changed quite quickly as his character developed along with diminutive and bumbling sidekick LeFou played by Josh Gad creating just as many laughs as he did bringing Olaf from Frozen to life.
LeFou (Josh Gad) and Gaston (Luke Evans). and Image source: Disney
I am happy to say, the movie captured everything in Disney digital D3 - from the stunning scenery, to digitally mastered characters and backdrops, extravagant sets, special effects, to the haunting yet entrancing music. Let's not forget the classics that always bring the house down - Be Our Guest with was a total showstopper, so much so that no matter how much noise the staff make, I'd do anything to have them entertain in my kitchen. Beauty And The Beast as always pulled at the heartstrings.
Belle's yellow ball gown is just gorgeous! Image source: Disney
See if you can pick the wonderful subtle touches reminiscent of The Sound of Music, Le Miserables, Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, Sleeping Beauty's spinning wheel and Rapunzel's tower. These skilful visual touches will be noticed by fairytale lovers. My favourite - Madame de Garderobe (Audra McDonald) in her true Fairy Godmother-like style, using all her flair and creativity to dress Belle ahead of her dinner date with The Beast.
Beauty and The Beast both love to read. Image source: Disney
My most laugh out loud moment was a male villager stampeding into the castle fought off by Madame de Garderobe, who by magically transforming his male attire into women's, is somewhat quite delighted. Sprinkled with just the right amount of humour throughout, and introducing a new generation to this classic tale worth waiting for, I predict a big win at the Academy Awards.
As for the moment of true love, I won't spoil it. I can say that it's just spectacular. Would you expect anything less from Disney?