In a turn not so “tale as old as time”, Disney’s new live action adaption of Beauty and the Beast is in no way a pale imitation of its predecessor. In fact, it might even be better.
Just like any other child of the 90s, I grew up on a solid diet of Disney VHS classics and, just like any other little girl who walked around “with her nose stuck in a book”, no other movie shone quite so brightly as Beauty and the Beast.
Which is probably why audiences across the globe were a little, let’s say apprehensive, about this new live action outing. After all, no one wants their childhood memories steamrollered by a CGI monster truck.
In the words of the original animation’s Cogsworth “if it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it”, it was hard to see how the original magic could possibly be recreated on a live sound stage.
But this is where Disney made the brilliant decision to not just re-heat the original and serve it up on a new platter. Instead, they took all the ingredients that worked the first time around, tossed them up, added a few different spices and created a whole new dish.
And boy is it delicious.
This time around, Belle (played by the delightful Emma Watson) is not just a bookworm and dreamer, but a strong heroine who is also a masterful inventor with a lot more agency and development than we've previously seen in a Disney heroine.
Instead of falling onto the bed and weeping after being locked up in the Beast's castle, she fashions a rope and attempts to lower herself down a cliff face.
Her decision to turn down Gaston's proposal of marriage is also given more gravitas, with the sexually-harassing former Army captain maliciously pointing out that once their fathers die, unmarried women of the small french village are thrown out onto the street. Then forced to beg for scraps of food on the street just to stay alive.
Ouch. That's something that was quietly swept under the rug while Belle was merrily performing the song Little Town in the original flick.
Speaking of Gaston, the title 'Most Valuable Player of Beauty and the Beast' should, without a doubt, be bestowed upon him. His portrayer, Luke Evans, manages to carefully walk a tightrope between perfect comedic timing and a deadly, villainous streak that pretty much leads him to be a straight up murderer.
Seriously, at one point he is so bloodthirsty that my seatmate jumped straight up from her chair while I threw up my hands and asked "can they even do that in a Disney movie?!".
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Gaston's scenes with side-kick LeFou (played by the brilliant Josh Gad) are standouts within the film, injecting some welcome modern comedic bits into a classic story.
Another feather in the film's cap is that this time around, every character and storyline is much more fleshed out, allowing even the most die-hard Beauty and the Beast fans to be surprised at where the story is leading.
We are finally let in on the tragic reason why Belle and her father are calling a tiny village, where they clearly do not belong, home. And what became of her mother.
While these additions to Belle's life are welcome additions to the script, perhaps the most welcome surprise of all was the character arc built around the Beast's servants. Those poor souls who are cursed along with him, transformed into household objects and forced to live beneath his wrath.
Even though the story's focus has always been more solidly directed at the sadness and struggles faced by Belle and the Beast, I've always thought the fate dealt out to Mrs Potts, Lumiere and there gang was a much more tragic one.
After all, they were just going about their days and doing their jobs, when all of a sudden they look in the mirror and discover that their faces now resemble items found on the shelves of Bed, Bath and Beyond.
There are not enough HR teams in the world to deal with this particular pickle, to be honest.
The modern remake raises the stakes for these characters even further.
Unlike the original animation, if the Beast does not lock down a lady love by the time the last petal falls, they are not just cursed to remain in their transformed bodies forever, but they will become regular old household items.
Effectively dying and trapped forever as broken furnishings.
And not only are they racing against the clock to prevent their own deaths, they also blame themselves for how the Beast behaved, and the downfall that led to them all being cursed. They must deal with the pain of knowing that their loved ones outside the castle are also under a spell and have forgotten that they even existed in the first place.
Far out, Disney. I have not been this emotionally traumatised since Bambi's mum was gunned down by a hunter or Mufasa lay trampled beneath a herd of wilder-beasts.
The 2017 Beauty and the Beast is not here to step on your childhood.
It retains the charm, magic and tunes that enthralled you the first time around, but this time adds an extra gift with purchase. In the form of some fresh strings of storyline that veer in a much darker direction.
Much like a delicious glass of wine and a exquisite block of cheese, both the live action and animation versions of Beauty and the Beast can be enjoyed and respected separately.
Beauty and the Beast will hit Australian cinemas March 23. It is rated PG.