My two main impressions:
~ it was really, really pretty
~it was really, really sweet
The music made me happy and, though some cast members sang better than others, it was pretty well executed.
Most of the additional scenes were fun, especially the prologue(that eyeshadow, though), but many of them failed to complement the original story. For example, at one point the Beast and Belle use time travel apparatus to visit her past and discover what happened to the mother who was never mentioned in the cartoon. That scene served to satisfy our interest about her mom, but did little to drive the story or develop the characters.
Also, without revealing too much, the ending played out a little differently than it did in the 1991 movie. I didn't care for the alterations, but "on that point it is best to remain silent" until you have seen it and decided for yourself. :)
Now, besides the music and visuals and sweetness, the one other element that filled my heart with joy was the casting. So much yes. So many familiar faces and perfect choices for the roles. The actors I appreciated were...
Hermione! She was a pretty good Belle. She looks like Belle to begin with and she brought the strong, but feminine attributes essential to most good female characters.
He played one of my favorite characters in Downton Abbey, Mathew Crawley. I was looking forward to the transformation at the end of the movie when he would look like said Downton Abbey character, but, to my delight, the CGI managed to match his facial expressions to that of the Beast's to where I could was thinking, "Wow, that's just the way Matthew would have said that!" throughout the movie.
Mrs. Potts has never really been my favorite character, but Emma Thompson pulled the role off nicely.
Isn't it funny how both the live-action Disney princess remakes have featured a villain played by an actor who was a hero in a Tolkien movie? (sorry, that was a mouthful)
Cinderella featured Cate Blanchett(Galadriel) as the evil stepmother and Beauty and the Beast included Luke Evans(Bard) as Gaston. Both cases required a little getting used to, but in the end, Luke Evans was a perfect Gaston. He made him humorous and despicable and just like the cartoon.
She had a relatively minor role as the featherduster, but it was nice(and somewhat ironic) to see the graceful star of Belle.
Lastly, I was surprised to recognize Hattie Morahan(the enchantress) from Sense and Sensibility and Mr. Holmes.
Now, about the gay character. Yes, LeFou was gay. Yes, the "exclusively gay moment" the director promised us was nothing more than about three seconds of men dancing with each other, but yes, there were a fair number of clues leading up to that. LeFou mildly flirts with Gaston throughout the film, which is uncomfortable, but not terribly inappropriate. Just disagreeable and unfortunate.
Downton Abbey(the best tv show ever) features a gay character as well. It's definitely uncomfortable, but I still watch the show because it takes a neutral position on his actions(and because it never crosses my personal border of content I don't tolerate on a screen). It doesn't shove it under our noses and ask us to celebrate like Disney did.
As a teenager, the issue was whether I would financially support something I didn't morally support. In this select circumstance, I was willing to do that. That was my decision, but I respect yours.
So, conclusion: Beautiful(and somewhat shallow)...but mostly beautiful. To quote my previous mini-review, "a long string of overwhelming eye candy". :)
What did you think of Beauty and the Beast? Did you like the casting?