Beauty And The Beast

500 Days Of Film Reviews Disney’s Live Action Beauty And The Beast Starring Emma Watson And Dan Stevens

An enchantress casts a powerful spell on a handsome yet arrogant prince, condemning him to lonely life as a terrifying beast and turning his loyal servants into household objects. Their only hope is for the Beast to fall in love and be loved in return before the last petal on a magical rose has fallen.

Is It Any Good?

In 1991, Disney animation, Beauty And The Beast, was released. The film was met with universal acclaim - audiences loved it and critics proclaimed it one of cinema's greats. 26 years later, the film remains one of Disney's most beloved animated movies.

 

It would take a brave director indeed to transform this animation into live action. Fortunately, Bill Condon was more than up for the challenge. While Condon's Beauty And The Beast doesn’t surpass the original, it sits respectfully alongside it - a loving adaptation that also feels fresh, taking the classic story into places new.

 

Key to the film’s success is its casting and Beauty And The Beast is pretty near perfect on this front. Emma Watson is gorgeous and feisty as Belle, while Dan Stevens is brilliant (and very funny) as the Beast. The film’s supporting cast is also impressive - including Ewan McGregor as Lumière (charming despite a slightly dodgy accent), Ian McKellen as Cogsworth and Emma Thompson as Mrs Potts (successfully making the part her own).

 

Stealing the show, however, is Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou. More nuanced and developed than in the animation, the two characters light up the screen - particularly during a rousing rendition of the song, Gaston.

 

 

While the possibilities are, of course, endless in animation, Condon has to rely heavily on CGI to tell his tale. The visual effects work extremely well with only a few jarring moments. Indeed, several scenes are truly beautiful. For example, Lumière’s dinner number (Be Our Guest) is spectacular and the ballroom scene is absolutely stunning - really rather moving. 

 

Meanwhile, alongside Beauty And The Beast’s original songs are three new compositions from Alan Menken (who composed the songs for the 1991 animation) and Tim Rice. Their task was to create new music to compliment the original score and also help the film in its further development of key characters (the Beast and Maurice particularly).

 

Menken has praised the cast of Beauty And The Beast for their musical abilities. While Emma Watson and Dan Stevens’ voices occasionally betray their lack of musical experience, their rendition of the film’s classic songs add a layer of vulnerability to their characters, making them even more charming as a result.  

 

Disney’s live action Beauty And The Beast certainly had a tough act to follow. While the film just fails to match the wonder and magic of the animation (what film could?), Bill Condon’s film does not disappoint. 

 

Entertaining, visually stunning and featuring a wonderful cast, 2017’s Beauty And The Beast is a very welcome guest indeed. 

Random Observations

In the weeks leading up to the release of Beauty And The Beast, the media was all over the news that Josh Gad’s character, LeFou, was to be the first openly gay character in a Disney movie. While LeFou’s sexuality is really only hinted at during the film, the development is encouraging nonetheless. 

 

I loved the fact that Beauty And The Beast paid homage to other musicals - including The Sound Of Music and Singin’ In The Rain.

 

As much as I enjoyed Emma Thompson, I still prefer Angela Lansbury as Mrs Potts.

 

If you are thinking about taking very young children to see Beauty And The Beast you should know that this is a pretty long movie (2hrs 9 mins to be precise). Meanwhile, the BBFC warns that the film features mild fantasy violence (but no blood or injury detail) and mild threat.

 

Have you seen Beauty And The Beast? 

 

If you have, what did you think of Disney’s latest live action movie? Let me know by leaving me a comment in the section below!

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