Disney’s 1991 animated classic Beauty and the Beast turned out to be an everlasting gem in the animation industry. A true storybook fairy-tale for the kids, and loved by adults, it is a ground-breaker of a film that has been adored by a generation that lovingly kept it in their hearts for having something special that had attracted their souls and impacted their hearts. Eighteen years after its initial release, Disney attempts to reopen this book of masterful degrees to narrate it to the generation of today by creating a live-action remake that would live up to today’s standards in filmmaking. Combining real humans with wondrous CGI, Bill Condon’s reimagining basically, fulfills its promises of being a satisfying carbon copy of the original; bringing gorgeous marvels of ravishing splendor to paint a little more life to the already stunning fairy-tale that had been told before in animated form.
How accurate it is when it comes to being as close as it could ever get to the original is entirely remarkable, and is a more than gratifying truth that cannot be simply denied. A perfect example of this is the casting that pulls together some well-known actors to live in the shells of the animated characters, and transform themselves into their ideal human depictions. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens know what they are doing, and they do it so splendidly that, they both establish a hearty relationship that charms all the way around. Watson is completely ravishing as Belle, and fits the role flawlessly – almost as if she was conceived to become the human embodiment of the revered and beloved Disney princess. Her lovely face and calmness used to portray Belle registers in the mind, and becomes one of the best things to be remembered in the film with her ferocity, beaut, and everything in between that she has turning into something memorable and impressive.
She shows that she is able to bring back the Disney magic that fans have yearned for, and through that, she gets our hearts warmed up once again with the use of fiery but fair messages of femininity to empower once again girls and women alike just like in the days of yore. The Belle that we get to see here is a woman of elegance and class that girls would and should look up to, and Emma Watson proves that so sparklingly as she puts out lovely morals and lessons whose values she manifests strikingly – so much so that deeming her role as forthright iconic is inevitable and apt even. Dan Stevens on the other hand, gives an excellent performance as Beast – letting the film’s beauty to flourish as we explore more of what makes him who he is, that he shows with unseen emotions which makes him a perfect companion to Watson’s Belle. They both breathe new life while having the same soul, and what they create out of that is undeniably worthy of being witnessed and cherished – most specially in IMAX 3D where we are gifted with a much grander visage to drool at wherein soothing, beautiful music and prepossessing spectacle get in harmony to illustrate a fantasy that is closer to reality than we think.
In it, nothing is altered, but a way is paved for some twinkling minor additions to make the film’s entirety wholesome with it being little touches that end up giving something more to it. In spite of the new elements getting their own shine, a dominant familiarity is distinctly made to be felt. But even with what these reiterated moments exude, as they get positioned in the right places, they never make themselves feel underwhelming, for their impressively waiting for cues alluringly takes our hands for a breathtaking swirl around places we’ve been to before that gets bedecked with an even more ornate appearance to parade around with. By the grace of right timing, they jump out, and blow stardust in your eyes to immediately get you bound by its spell, and enter a fantasy that you won’t ever want to walk out of.
Once it takes you on a stroll to the pages of the golden storybook that it has memorized, revised and re-written, you’d feel comfortable and at home seeing old gems get illuminated by a new light, and because of that show-stopping display of theatrics, director Bill Condon never makes fans feeling their childhoods getting disrespected. Exquisitely, he cinematically describes itself to be the same film from 1991 that fans have dreamed of seeing years after their feet had been swept away by the original – basically making it a dream that had come true, for the intricacy of the details that he engraves on it are so meticulously spot on that, the beauty emanating from beyond and within it is enough to make one cry like a kid who gets to see all of these unwinding for the very first time just like magic.
One would really be moved with all of what the film has to offer, and better yet, they’ll find their spirits getting lifted with a radiant smile that would get attached to their faces that’ll make even the most mature of audiences feel giddy and light. Seeing a fragment of one’s childhood getting relived, and not just revisited by a filmmaker that knows what he’s doing is suffice to say, worthy of applause, but seeing him reveal how great he is at it furthers the brilliance – evidenced by his unquestionably passionate crafts and creative decisions that molds the film masterly. The opening scene, right from the storybook introduction to the generously amazing bit with Emma Watson singing about the desires in her provincial life brings back glorious memories from the past, but never replaces what had sat there for years. Instead, in a gesture of appreciation, they burst in nostalgic bliss, and excite by singing songs that we all know – songs that it knows we can sing and dance along to in perfection which without fail, immediately, successfully grabs us to celebrate the heralding of yet another triumphant Disney live-action remake.
It isn’t ashamed of being a modern clone, nor should that be taken as an offense. How it honors the original by means of producing similar visuals that turns everything we had once seen in 2D animation into a stunning reality is a feat that it accomplishes unspeakably. The simplicity threaded in the narrative side that it holds onto dearly is admirable enough, and there is nothing more to be wanted out of it – validated and evidenced by a remarkably clean, and heartfelt direction from Bill Condon, who ascends the tale’s modest tidings to theater-like proportions that flare up in musically and visually-sloping opulence that is sure to please. Every song, old or new, is an irresistible extravaganza that couldn’t help but let out the frolicsome kid in us to join along, and flow on the rivers of rhythm that the folks produce. Meanwhile, more emotional numbers carry us from one place to another dramatically – such as Belle’s serenades that get sung by Emma Watson, who gives us no question to be asked regarding her vocal capabilities. One would panic that she would ruin the unforgettable character just by reviving songs of preciousness, but nevertheless, Watson’s singing as Belle is just as astounding as her acting – just as Dan Stevens does as Beast.
Make no mistake – this remake is, by no means qualified to have the status of being a modern classic, nor does it have the guts to get near a brilliant uniqueness, but for what it is, you just have to take it, and get impressed by its eagerness to bring something for the new generation to hold dearly while also catering to the satisfaction of its fans. As much as possible, it tries to not make a mess of itself by going the simple route, and it works like magic – just heading straight ahead to relive beloved memories from the 1991 original with total consistence which lets us see the same animated classic walk around in new clothes that twinkles so brightly, and will have one struck with enchantment. 2017’s Beauty and the Beast definitely doesn’t match up with the original, but if it’s just a matter of asking about it if it’s a remake that is deserving of our approval, then yes, we’d agree since it turned out to be indeed a tremendous ball that just made our year, and deservedly made us proud to be its guest.
- Beauty and the Beast is now showing in Philippine cinemas from Walt Disney Studios Philippines. See it in IMAX 3D, 3D, and 2D. Rated G by the MTRCB.