THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
No matter whether you're a boy or girl, man or women, you're bound to love this tale that is as old as time.
I think that's my favorite opening line; I came up with that completely on my own. Anyway, I've been reviewing plenty of Disney films lately, in no particular order or anything. So naturally, I was bound to review Beauty and the Beast. First of all, I must say that I did not grow up watching Beauty and the Beast; as a Disney fan, I always knew about it, and I had even read about it in my Disney storybook, but as a boy I never exactly begged my mom to buy me a copy. But I'd heard so many great things about this film, and as someone who is collecting many classic Disney films, I definitely wanted to pick this up. I can gladly say that I LOVE Beauty and the Beast.
There are many things to love about this movie. The story is great and the messages are very powerful and poignant. The theme of the film is that true beauty lies skin deep, something that is definitely true in real life.
The characters in this film are great. Belle is not only among the best Disney heroines, but she is one of the best (and most realistic) Disney characters. Unlike many of her predecessors (Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora), Belle isn't waiting to be swept up by a handsome prince; rather, she is very smart and imaginative and wants more than her "provincial life" where everybody acts like everybody else. She is a bit of an outcast (as is her father). The Beast is also a great character, and the way he changes throughout the film is both profound and believable. The film's villain, Gaston, is probably my most hated Disney villain (other than Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, that is). More than anything, he's just a prick. I mean, some of you might be screaming "SCAR!", but Scar is one of those handful of Disney villains that I can help but love and hate at the same time. The same goes for many of them, such as Ursula, Cruella de Vil, Jafar, and even Lady Tremaine from Cinderella). Some I don't even hate at all, such as Hades (he's hilarious) and Maleficent (she's just so sexy and awesome). Gaston is funny, but I still can't stand him or his little sidekick. As for other characters, the Beast's servants who were turned into household items are also very good characters. They're very entertaining, never annoying. My favorite of them is the candle holder, Lumiere.
Another big strength of the film is the songs by Alan Menken. These songs are among the best, most memorable Disney songs. "Belle" is a great way of introducing us to Belle as well as the townspeople, and the reprise is a purely classic Disney moment. "Something There" is meant to show how both Belle and the Beast are developing unexpected romantic feelings for each other; it perfectly captures the feeling of falling in love (not that I'm experienced), even down to being unsure, or a little fearful of your feelings. "Gaston" is a lot of fun to sing along to, "Beauty and the Beast" is a touching song that accompanies the ballroom sequence. My personal favorite is "Be Our Guest", which is accompanied by some excellent animation; it is definitely one of the most catchy, fun Disney songs, and I DARE you not to get it stuck in your head. Also, the composed background music of the movie is excellent as well, and accompanies the films light and dark, happy and sad moments very well.
Lastly, I must compliment the wonderful animation of this film. There is not a single moment of Beauty and the Beast that does not look great, and the DVD, which is very bright and vibrant, definitely affirms that. My favorite sequence in the film from an animation standpoint is "Be Our Guest", and my other favorite (which happens to be my favorite scene in the film) is the scene where the Beast rescues Belle from the wolves in the snow. In addition, the Beast himself is one of the best-animated characters I have ever seen. The animators managed to capture so much weight, power, and emotion in him, and he moves so fluidly (as does everyone in the film). But from an animation standpoint, the Beast definitely stands out. Finally, the famous ballroom sequence used CGI in its early days, and it looks seamless.
Beauty and the Beast is without a doubt one of the greatest Disney films and a classic. As as matter of fact, I won't hesitate to say that this is one of the best movies ever made, and I'm not clouded by nostalgia because as I said, I didn't see this much growing up. This movie is so magical and touching, and one of my favorite scenes in the film is when Belle comes back to help the Beast near the end, when he's battling Gaston, and the Beast climbs up the roof while they're both reaching for each other's hand. Everything about that scene is beautiful, from the music to the animation to the emotional power of it, since that is the scene where the audience realizes that they are both in love with each other. Beauty and the Beast was the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and I must say that it would have been very deserving had it won. This movie has all the depth (and perhaps more) of many live action films (and particularly romances), and is one of the best romantic films out there (this beats Titanic ANY day of the week).
I'm a big fan of Disney's latest film Tangled, which I praised for harking back to the Disney Renaissance, particularly The Little Mermaid, this, and even Aladdin to a degree. It's very easy to see the inspiration of Beauty and the Beast on Tangled (the climactic scene in particular). However, as good as Tangled is, Beauty and the Beast is in a different league entirely. I mean, Tangled isn't too far from it, but Beauty and the Beast is pretty much a flawless film, whereas Tangled has a few minor flaws here and there (particularly the opening song, if you ask me). It's more of a testament to how great Beauty and the Beast is though, rather than Tangled being weaker.
This is likely my favorite Disney "Princess" movie or Disney fairy tale, though I love the others for what they are as well. Definitely check this out, even if you're a guy (as I am), because this is not a girly movie. It's great for both sexes and all ages. I'm proud to say that I love Beauty and the Beast.