From the Crowd: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is live-action magic

Emma Watson stars as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Emma Watson stars as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

We were looking at box office numbers last week – something we routinely do, of course – and saw that the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast had already raked in more than $900 million worldwide in a little more than three weeks, according to Box Office Mojo, which tracks that kind of stuff.

Assuming an average ticket price of $10 (Box Office Mojo puts the average ticket price at $8.65 in the U.S., but we haven’t seen prices like that in some time), that means about 90 million people around the world have seen it. We needed to add to that total.

I hadn’t seen the original in at least a decade, so I went in without much firm knowledge of the story, other than the Beauty befriends the Beast and they dance at the end. That allowed me to just watch it like a regular movie, without constantly comparing it to the original.

In case you have no idea what the story is about, here’s a very brief summary: Belle is a beautiful yet strange girl in her village – people think it’s weird that she’s always reading, so she doesn’t get much attention from the men. Gaston is Mr. Perfect and he wants Belle because she is beautiful and hard to get. Belle doesn’t want him and instead discovers that this ferocious beast everyone talks about is actually a pretty nice guy.

The most notable aspect of the film is the way it looks. I saw it in 3-D at the Concord Regal, so I got the fullest visual experience possible. This movie is one that certainly doesn’t need to be seen in 3-D the way Gravity or Avatar do, but it was a nice presentation nonetheless.

The big draw here is that this movie features real people, not cartoons, however there’s no such thing (as far as we know) as real-life talking tea cups and candlestick holders and gigantic beasts.

Despite these facts, the characters looked as real as one could imagine a talking clock or armoire could.

The acting was also very good all-around. I’d never seen star Emma Watson in a film before, but she gave a charming and lively performance as Belle.

The Gaston character, played by Luke Evans, was also excellent. Evans does a fantastic job at portraying the super-macho, cocky chauvinist who believes he’s God’s gift to women. He’s easy to root against in this movie, but he still has a very slight charm to him, somehow – I didn’t want him to suffer serious misfortune.

The movie is obviously a musical, and I must say I didn’t recall almost any of the songs except for “Be Our Guest” and the title track. The musical scenes didn’t feel as cheesy as typical ones do, and the actors all showed off their great musical talents. (Is this becoming the new norm in Hollywood now, after La La Land got all that hype?)

What I found most impressive – and mysterious – was the extraordinary castle that most of the movie takes place in. In the beginning, when Beast was still a person – a prince, in fact – the castle is full of revelers and the place is in top shape.

I kept wondering what was real and what was CGI. The technology is so good that it’s honestly nearly impossible to tell what’s real and what isn’t.

The castle is so grand and magnificent, with just a ridiculous amount of detail on every surface, that it doesn’t seem possible that it was real – but if you see this movie, you’ll definitely be wondering the same thing yourself.

There was only one time when a human gave away some special effects. Near the end, after Beast gets cleaned up to dance with Belle, he extends his arm for her to grab, the way a date would. When she goes to wrap her arm around his, you can tell she’s just resting her arm on air and not an actual Beast arm.

If there’s one gripe about the movie, it would have to be the length. This thing checks in at a little over two hours, so if you’re planning on bringing the kids, make sure they’re able to sit for that long (our girls certainly wouldn’t be able to do that just yet).

One trend this movie is guaranteed to start is that of live-action remakes of classic Disney cartoons.

According to several movie tracking websites, Disney has 22 such films planned in the near future, including some of the all-time classics such as Lion King (how will they pull that off?), The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Dumbo (Hollywood Reporter says live elephants will not be used on screen in this one).

In the meantime, give the kids a nap and a snack and then head over to Concord Regal to take in Beauty and the Beast – be part of a billion-dollar franchise!

For show times, just do a Google search for the movie in Concord.

Author: Jon Bodell

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