By Angie Raphael
Enchanting and visually stunning, this live action and CGI remake of Disney's 1991 animation is what many fans of Beauty and the Beast were hoping for. To those few uninitiated with the plot, Beauty and the Beast is about independent, free-thinking, bookworm Belle (Emma Watson), who is bored with her mundane life and horrified at the prospect of marrying the self-centred and obnoxious Gaston (Luke Evans in a hilarious performance). One day, Belle's father stumbles upon a castle where he is taken prisoner by the cursed Beast (Dan Stevens), but Belle soon arrives to take his place, and so begins an unlikely romance.
Director Bill Condon takes his time to flesh out the entire story in more detail, including a sub-plot about the heroine's mother that allows Belle and her father (Kevin Kline) to share some sweet moments. In fact, the film boasts an exceptional cast, including the castle staff such as Lumiere (Ewan McGregor with a sexy French accent), Cogsworth (the reliable Ian McKellen) and Mrs Potts (the always charming Emma Thompson). LeFou (Josh Gad) is also developed to be so much more than Gaston's goofy sidekick, becoming Disney's first gay character. Much has been said in the media about this decision, but it seems to be overblown into a controversy. LeFou is a subtly gay character and that gently shows young children that homosexuality is normal, even if they do not fully understand the significance of what they are seeing, while teenagers and adults can appreciate the social progress being made. The film's biggest problem is its running time of about two hours because younger audiences might struggle to sit still. Nonetheless, at its heart, this whimsical tale portrays one of Disney's strongest and bravest heroines, and that should be celebrated.