Madisen Venter, guest writer

I (Madisen) still remember my first time watching “Beauty and the Beast” as a little girl. I fell in love with everything about it from the hauntingly beautiful overture and the enchanting, loveable characters to the timeless tale of a powerful love that doesn’t judge a book by it’s cover.

I was captivated by the imagery painted across my screen; the unraveling of her twirling gold dress during the dance number, the pink and yellow sky during the Belle reprise, and the intricate Gothic style details of the west wing.

As a huge fan of the original Disney animated film, I anticipated the live action film and tried my hardest not to put unrealistic expectations on it.

I am extremely pleased to say that the live action “Beauty and the Beast” film exceeded my expectations. I felt as though it did so well on it’s own that comparison didn’t need to be made to its predecessor. From beginning to end, I was on the edge of my seat as this beloved childhood film came to life right before my eyes.

Something the live action film did that I loved was add in some missing puzzle pieces from the original story line in order to make it realistic and hit closer to home with the audience. Without giving too much away, I will say that you learn a snippet about the Beast and Belle’s families.

As for characters, let’s start with America’s sweetheart, Emma Watson. The beloved actress who once played Hermione Granger graced the screen with her beauty and poise in her role as Belle.

In interviews, Watson expressed the hard work she put into the role. She said she felt a lot of pressure on her singing ability for the film, but shared that she was able to work with a vocal coach in order to feel comfortable using her real voice.

I thought Watson was the perfect choice for Belle. Her singing voice was angelic, and her tone was gorgeous, almost magical. Watson brought the character to life with her kind and gentle persona, coupled with the strong feminine heroine that we all remember.

Her co-star, Dan Stevens, who is most recognizable from his role as Matthew in “Downton Abbey,” played the role of the Beast. During the trailers, I worried that the CGI effects would make him seem too scary. However, after seeing him interact during his scenes, I fell in love with the Beast just as much as I did in the animated film. The way they animated his eyes was extremely realistic, and we were able to see more emotion than before.

Stevens played the Beast as witty and sarcastic, and his heart softened throughout the story. When he transformed into a human at the end, he was even dreamier than the animated Prince.

Another fantastic cartoon-to-human transformation was Luke Luke Evans who excelled in his role as Gaston. He even had a great singing voice. During Gaston’s song with Lefou (voiced by Josh Gad), some parts had me laughing so hard I almost jumped out of my seat.

Finally, it would be an injustice to not mention the “Be Our Guest” number. It was styled as an old Hollywood musical number and kept the same glam and adorable qualities of the original. The CGI added to the spectacularity of the whole scene by painting the walls with colorful lights, making the inanimate objects look real and even making the bubbles lifelike enough to touch.

When going to see the live action film, I would suggest being as open as possible. While in some ways it is very similar to the animated film, there are many pleasant surprises and that I think fans will love.