by Denise Holcomb. Denise attended a free Advance Screening in exchange for her honest opinion.
Beauty and the Beast is a musical romantic fairy tale in film from Walt Disney Pictures and Mandeville Films and can be viewed in standard digital, 3D, IMAX, and a few other formats; it’s rated PG. Inspired by the 1991 animated movie of the same name, it does have a few alterations and additions in characters and music. The casting ensemble of talent was amazing. I saw the movie in IMAX and was blown away with the magic.
It opens with the story of how the prince became the beast, the curse cast upon him by an enchantress, and the reversal only possible with the beast finding love before a rose loses all of its petals. Flowing to a few years later with the first big song, “Belle,” we find Belle and how she is treated as an outsider by many in her village: she’s a book girl, and they find it odd. It’s the classic retelling and follows most of the same plot from the original movie with Belle rebuffing Gaston’s constant proposals. When her father goes to market, he’s forced onto different path and encounters a pack of wolves. Escaping them, he finds the castle and tries to take refuge. Realizing the castle’s inhabitants are personified objects, he attempts leaving, only to be imprisoned by the “Beast.” Belle is alerted to danger by Phillipe, the horse, which takes her to the castle. This is where the movie comes alive.
Belle’s arrival and interaction with the castle’s inhabitants brings hope and extra life within, especially when Belle sacrifices her freedom for her father’s life. The “Be Our Guest” number is a fantastic offering with the action-packed escapade of the castle’s cast of characters and takes the movie to a whole new level. When Belle’s attempted escape leads to the wolves injuring the Beast. She saves his life, returns him home, and nurses him back to health while the lively characters tell her of the curse and how they feel responsible for his fate. When the Beast and Belle discover they share a fondness for books, he gives her his library, and they find a peace of sorts: they both lost their mothers as young children and both are, in a way, outcasts of the world. He teaches her how to use a magical mirror to learn the truth about her mother. The Beast throws a dance for Belle; the musical number with “Beauty and the Beast” is reminiscent of great Hollywood song and dance moments. As affection between them has grown, Belle reminds him she could never fully care for him as prisoner in his charge. He loves her enough to set her free, and with that, all lose hope for returning to their human forms.
Gaston’s obsession with marrying Belle leads to her and her father being ensnared. Gaston leads an angry mob to the castle to destroy the darkness. Belle escapes capture and arrives at the castle in time to see Gaston kill Beast as he realizes Belle loves Beast. The final petal of the rose drops as Beast takes his last breath, and all the characters go dark with the castle. Belle declares her love, Agathe–now revealed as the enchantress–brings forth a new rose, and the curse is broken. Daylight breaks, the castle and its inhabitants are restored to life. Beast becomes the prince once again. When Belle looks into his eyes and sees the love behind the man who was the beast, they embrace and kiss. It ends with another musical number and is complete with the requisite Happily Ever After we all want in a romantic fairy tale.
Beauty and the Beast is nothing short of magical. The audience was enveloped into the production by clapping and cheering throughout the film. Enchanting from the beginning to the end: it has everything one wants in a romantic fairy tale and everything one could wish for in a Disney production. The music and dancing were fabulous with the soundtrack of classic and new songs. The all-star cast brought so much life to the personified objects through voice and song–my personal favorites were Mrs. Potts and Chippy—and the costuming was perfection. Watching in IMAX enhanced the action—I highly recommend it. You’ll be ducking for cover more than once. This is a fantastic film for all ages, though I would caution parents of very young children to use their best judgement, because the wolves could be scary to some. It’s worth staying to hear the final song while watching the credits. I loved the movie and would consider it a must-see for the family. Beauty and the Beast is destined to be another Disney Classic!
Beauty and the Beast is now playing in theatres everywhere!