Beauty and the Beast is the 2017 live-action remake of Disney’s 1991 hit animated film of the same name, itself an adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s famous fairy tale. The film stars an ensemble cast that includes Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Stevens (The Beast/Prince Adam), Luke Evans (Gaston), Kevin Kline (Maurice), Josh Gad (LeFou), Ewan McGregor (Lumière), Stanley Tucci (Maestro Cadenza), Audra McDonald (Madame de Garderobe), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth) and Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts).

In the film, Belle is taken prisoner by a fearsome Beast in his enchanted castle and she learns to look beyond his appearance while evading a narcissistic hunter who seeks to take Belle for himself.

The storyline of Beauty and the Beast is familiar to most people and packs no surprises, it is how the adaption and presentation is carried out that will mark the 2017 differently from it’s predecessors, whether in book, Broadway musical, animated film or live-action form.

We caught the Singapore gala screening yesterday evening at The Cathay and found some surprises in the new movie adaptation.

1.  New Songs! 

As the film is a musical, half of it’s success will be dependent on the strength of the soundtrack and musical scores. Other than featuring most of the original iconic music tracks by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the film also featured four new songs songs, including a new recording of “Beauty and the Beast” by Ariana Grande and John Legend. Celine Dion, singer of the original title track, chipped in to perform another of the new original songs “How Does a Moment Last Forever” to play over the end titles, while Josh Groban performed the song “Evermore”.

2. Belle has a more inspiring backstory

In the usual Disney princess movies, it’s always about a girl-meets-boy and gets rescued of swept away, being just a token beauty object with no much other contributions. In this latest movie adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, Belle is given a more inspiring backstory as an inventor of sort, odd and obsessed with books and acquiring knowledge. This new Belle is definitely way ahead of the curve during the medieval times and is more inlined with Watson’s real-life feminist image.

3. The Beast is given a compassionate backstory too

Without going into too much details and giving away the movie plot, there is a little addition to give Prince Adam more leeway to justify his horrible behaviour before he became the Beast. Otherwise, how can he be a match for the progressive 2017 feminist version of Belle?

4. Belle’s parents get a backstory as well

So if both Belle and the Beast gets their own backstories, there must be more to Belle’s parents than just being token characters. You get to learn of their pasts and how Belle and his dad ended up living in a small village even though she grew up in Paris.

5. LeFou (Gaston’s sidekick) is gay

Gay LeFou

Gay LeFou

This is a very daring move from Disney. In this version of the film, Gaston’s sidekick is gay, marking the first openly homosexual character in a Disney film. The inclusionary decision has been met with both praise and some criticism globally. The Russian government is considering banning the film in the country. Additionally, some theatres in America, like one in Henagar, Alabama, will not screen the film because of this subplot.

The last surprise is a real shocker isn’t it?

Overall, Beauty and the Beast had received favourable reviews from critics so far. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 74% based on 43 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “With an enchanting cast, beautifully crafted songs, and a painterly eye for detail, Beauty and the Beast offers a faithful yet fresh retelling that honors its beloved source material.” We agree with this assessment.

The 2017 version is an artful and entertaining remake, bringing a whiff of nostalgia. While the film mostly staying true to the original source material, it is spruced with some contemporary updates to ensure the story stays relevant today, making it a true timeless classic.

Then and now

Emma Watson also look really fitting and stunning as Belle on the big screen. Not to mention the majestic feel of the Beast, similar to the animated film version. This is a perfect date movie for couples.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) opens in Singapore cinemas from 16 March. Go catch it!