Set in eighteenth century France, an enchanted woman arrives at a prince's ball to offer him a rose in exchange for shelter. In punishment for his arrogance, she transforms him into a beast, his servants into household objects and erases the castle from villagers' memories. The prince must learn to love again before the rose's last petal falls, otherwise he will remain a beast forever and the objects lose their final streaks of humanity.

Meanwhile, a young lady named Belle lives with her artistic father, Maurice, in the village of Villeneuve, A distinguished former soldier named Gaston seeks her hand in marriage, but Belle is repelled by his egotistical nature.

Maurice and his horse Phillippe get lost in a forest whilst travelling to sell musical items and are attacked by wolves. They escape to the Beast's castle, only for Maurice to find himself imprisoned by the monster for plucking a rose for Belle from his garden. Belle later discovers the castle after realising her father is missing and bargains with the Beast to set him free in exchange for her imprisonment, to which the latter agrees.

After meeting the servants, Belle wanders into the castle's west wing and discovers the rose. An angry Beast scares Belle and she flees into the forest, only to encounter the same wolves that attacked her father. But the Beast rescues her and injures himself in the process.

As she heals the Beast in return for his bravery, the servants anticipate she may be the one to smash the curse. The Beast shows Belle his library and he realises he is developing feelings for her. But Belle remains reluctant due to her imprisonment. Taking advantage of a magic book the enchantress gave the Beast, Belle takes him back to her old house in Paris, only to learn that her father was forced to leave her mother on her deathbed due to a plague infecting Paris at the time.

Maurice later returns to Villeneuve, but fails to convince the other villagers to rescue Belle. Gaston agrees to assist Maurice, but when he learns of the former soldier's true ambitions, he refuses to let him marry his daughter. As revenge, Gaston leaves Maurice tied up to a tree to be eaten by wolves. After being rescued by a hermit called Agathe, he attempts to persuade the villagers Gaston tried to kill him, but he gets sent to a local asylum.

Belle discovers her father's fate using the Beast's magic mirror after participating in a romantic dance with him. The Beast frees her to rescue Maurice and provides Belle with the mirror to allow him to look back on him with. As she returns, Belle proves her father's sanity by showing the villagers the mirror. Jealous of her love for the Beast, Gaston throws Belle into the asylum carriage and leads a march to murder the Beast. But Maurice and Belle escape as the latter returns to the castle to rescue the Beast.

The Beast is too depressed to fight Gaston, but rebuilds his strength after seeing Belle return. Gaston shoots the Beast in the back before he falls off the tower. The rose's last petal falls as the Beast dies.

Belle professes her love to the Beast and Agathe undoes the curse. The Beast and the servants become human again. The film ends with the prince and Belle dancing happily during a ball served for the kingdom.

'A tale as old as time'

For those already familiar with the plot of Beauty and the Beast, the plot is very familiar to fans of the Disney film, therefore there were no surprises in it whatsoever. But the plot remains as interesting to those who believe in a tale 'as old as time' and the live-action film does a huge justice to the original Animated Film. Fans of the original film were no doubt relieved to discover the brilliance of this adaptation.

Beauty and the Beast features an outstanding cast, with Emma Watson doing a stunning job of playing Belle, Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey brilliantly portraying the Beast, and other actors such as Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson voicing the servants.

Belle is by far the best character. Watson provides an element of charisma to her that leads you through the happy journey towards true love and rescues the Beast from a doomed fate, thereby reviving the kindness erased from the prince many years ago. She is the true heroine of this story.

'Spreads magic into the hardest of hearts'

This film is capable of spreading Disney's magic even into the hardest of hearts. The best scene by far is the villagers' siege on the castle. Despite condemning them to a life as objects, the servants display their loyalty and affection towards the Beast during one last stand and assist Belle in rescuing him from an eternal fate, even if it means being destroyed themselves.

'A sense of escapism'

I would recommend Beauty and the Beast to friends, family and readers of this review. For those who still believe Disney is capable of spreading joy to millions of people, the magic that we all grew up with during our childhoods is still powerful enough to provide a sense of escapism and joy in two hours of tragedy and joy put together.