So, I just saw this today. I'm mad at myself it took me two weeks - work travel and getting sick will do that to you.
The original animated version is very important to me. It was the first film I saw in theaters. I was Belle for Halloween. My family calls me Belle (real name rhymes). I have seen the original more times than I can count. If this was announced prior to Cinderella, I would've hated the idea, but I loved the LA Cinderella and actually was pretty excited.
I loved the back stories added. The number one benefit for me is it sells the love story, whereas (although I hate to admit it) the original one can be borderline icky. Now I believe they have a genuine connection. Also, others have mentioned the plot holes it addressed (no one knew the fucking castle was there?). The plague scene made me cry (so did a lot more later in the movie).
I also loved the fleshing out of LeFou and the calming down of Maurice. TBH, Gaston was a hothead in the initial movie but he wasn't wrong about Maurice. In this case, they went total sociopath on Gaston and Luke Evans sold the hell out of it. Shallow, but it is a shame he is gay.
I actually liked how the rose petal fell and the Enchantress chose to revive them.
Dan Stevens. I loved him on Downton, and have really enjoyed his post-Downton work (google The Guest shower scene and thank me later). However, I wasn't sure how he'd tackle this role so my expectations were average. He exceeded them. He brought so much humanity to this role, and the way they did the beast voice was great - you could still hear so much of Dan. Loved how they did the eyes as well, and they definitely chose an actor with striking eyes. Also, he can sing!
I've mentioned Luke Evans and Dan Stevens, but also Josh Gad, Ian McKellan and Kevin Kline. Audra, as always, crushed the vocals.
The scenery was lovely.
The new songs. Liked Evermore, was not as big of a fan on the others. And I hate the Legend/Grande duet. You can't improve on the Celine original.
Emma Thompson. I love that woman and thought I'd love her in this role, but part of me wondered if maybe Audra may have better suited for this role so she could've killed the song during the ballroom scene. Maybe I'm more partial to the Angela Lansbury vocal than I thought I was?
Ewan Macgregor. I had heard the Mexican thing, but his accent was fine to me. However, you just can't touch the Orbach performance to me, and I knew this going in.
The Not So Good
Emma Watson. Hated the casting then, don't like it better now. She can't sing very well, and she is missing the compassion (I think - it was SOMETHING) the original Belle oozed. She was monotone and honestly if Stevens wasn't so great it would've sunk the movie. Also, the I love you scene, did she mean it like she just realized it or what? I couldn't figure out her motivation. I'm just not impressed with her. They did have chemistry, so I'll give them that.
The dress and the way the ballroom scene was filmed. The transformation to the Prince was such a homage to the original and I wish the dance was more of one as well.
Despite my obvious distaste for the lead, I actually really, really liked it. I am super hormonal but I sobbed my eyes out the last ten minutes of the movie. Between the Beast dying and the servants transforming (the dog barking broke me, and so did Mrs Potts looking for Chip) I was a mess. It wasn't my finest moment.
One of my friends wants to see it Sunday and I may go again.