‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a nostalgic trip for viewers

Disney’s 2015 live-action “Cinderella” featured a much more effective, breathtaking and elegant ballroom scene.

A difference between the live action movie and the animated original is the background of Belle and Beast’s parents. She flawlessly portrayed the intelligent, independent, fearless and lovely young woman who was far ahead of her time – a character that every little girl once idolized. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s ugly exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within. Academy Award-winner Bill Condon (“Gods and Monsters”) directs a talent-rich cast that includes Emma Watson, Kevin Kline, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.

When talking about this film, it is necessary to recognize the hilariously amusing bro-mance between Luke Evans’ character Gaston, the narcissistic antagonist, and his loyal sidekick LeFou, played by Josh Gad.

All of the classic songs are in the movie and done beautifully, but I also really liked the new songs. This film is more magical than an enchanted rose. By contrast, the new Beauty and the Beast is a full 40 minutes longer than the original, even though it basically follows the original’s story beat-for-beat. Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou (Josh Gad), feels more human with different emotions and not just silliness.

“Beauty and the Beast” arrived in theaters with a bit of controversy.

Gaston and LeFou’s characters in the 2017 film may be the only characters that I will admit are better in the remake than their original counterparts. I particularly loved “Be Out Guest”, one of the most famous pieces from the film, which seemed like a lavish ride at a Disney theme park in the best of ways.

Speaking of Gaston and his lackey, LeFou – they stole the movie. There were many attempts at adding original ideas, like LeFou’s homosexuality and the Beast having his own song, as well as adding to the backstory of each character, but most were explored to their greatest potential. Belle’s bucolic life is interrupted when her father is locked away in a dark, wintery castle that is inhabited by a cursed and vile beast (Dan Stevens), and Belle makes the choice to take her father’s place and stay locked away in the castle with the Beast.

Overall, the new “Beauty and the Beast” is not simply a real-world adaptation from its animated predecessor. So the live action versions didn’t have the same impact. Smarter story writing results in a more genuine connection between the two main characters. Dan Stevens adds a softer, emotional side to the seemingly-cold beast of the past. I enjoyed watching the film, but I could not get past the fact that I had seen it all before in the 1991 version. The Beast was menacing, Lumiere was just as dashing, Cogsworth was the same sputtering coward, and Mrs. Potts and Chip were as cute and heartwarming as I remembered from my childhood.

The terrifying, tolerance-promoting “Beauty and the Beast” (fun video)