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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast (the animated Disney classic) is one of those movies that bring back memories of the good old days... in grade school. Yes, the cartoon was shown in 1991. So when I heard that Disney was making a live-action version of this beloved classic, I put the premiere date in my calendar and waited (im)patiently until the day arrived.

However, due to circumstances that I couldn't avoid (aka statistical analyses and physical exercise), I ended up watching the movie the week after it opened in San Pablo City, Laguna. It was a much-awaited showing, indeed, because the cinema was packed with parents (who relived their first time seeing the cartoon) and their children (who were seeing this version for the first time).

And so the "tale as old as time" began. Emma Watson (who I first saw as Hermione in the Harry Potter series), waltzed into the screen as Belle, the female protagonist. And I can say that she definitely is not Paige O'Hara when it comes to her singing. I guess my expectation was upped because Luke Evans sang really well as Gaston. I was absolutely blown away! Vocally, Emma Watson's Belle was no match to Luke Evans' Gaston. However, her persona does fit the character of Belle, so I thought that it was okay. And then there's Emma Thompson, taking over Angela Lansbury's Mrs. Potts; and I can say that Emma Thompson's performance actually made me forget that I was listening to Mrs. Potts 2.0. Lumière was voiced by Ewan McGregor whose French accent sounded like he once again took on the role of Christian in Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge. I'm not sure if I liked it. Ian McKellen, of course, was unrecognisable as Cogsworth; I couldn't find traces of Magneto nor of Gandalf... not even of Leigh Teabing in his performance as the mantel clock; such a chameleon!

The movie itself had no surprises that could throw the fans off. Yes, there were additional songs and the much hyped added dimension to LeFou, but there was nothing that made people think that this was an attempt to bring additional insights into the character. Belle was shown teaching a young girl how to read, quite empowering; but she developed a "washing machine" drawn by a donkey so she could sit down and read her book. That didn't come across too well; if I weren't listening, I'd think she's created the washing machine so she has time to laze around. Tsk. Gaston and LeFou were still two-dimensional; it was difficult to tolerate Gaston's narcissism... how could LeFou stand it? how could the women continue to fawn over the guy?!? Anyway, people writing "spoilers" for the live-action movie would be hard-pressed to do so because the 2017 movie is very loyal to the 1991 cartoon... even to the big reveal of the prince.

Honestly, I was a bit let down. I think I got so used to the prince's grizzly appearance that when he became human, it was meh

But still, it's such a feel-good movie. Already looking forward the the more modern take on Mulan.

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