Disney’s live-action films based on their animated classics have been improving over the past few years. From half-baked live-action films like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Maleficent’ to films that are faithful to the source material while adding some new elements in the mix like ‘Cinderella’ and last year’s ‘The Jungle Book’, Disney knows its craft better than ever. Will ‘Beauty and the Beast’ meet the very high expectations that fans and moviegoers all over the world have, or will it sing a wrong note? Let’s explore the tale as old as time.
This is where I usually place the summary of the film, but I mean, if you haven’t already seen the 1991 animated classic then stop right now and go watch it before reading further. Okay? Seriously, go watch it…last chance…
Well if you are still here and haven’t seen the 1991 original, I guess I ought to summarise the plot so you understand what ‘Beauty and The Beast’ is all about. Luckily I’ve already done that in my review of the animated film from last year, so I’ll just place that summary right here for you. You’re welcome.
The film is about Belle, a girl who loves to read, but who everyone in the village thinks is rather odd. A brash, dashing bachelor, Gaston, has his sights set on being together with Belle, but she is just not interested. When Belle’s father is in danger, she goes to help him, but the Beast has other plans and Belle becomes his prisoner.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ hits almost all the right notes. The film’s acting performances are great, with praise towards Emma Watson as Belle, the odd bookworm whose heart is always kind and gentle, and the show stealer, Luke Evans, of the devilishly handsome, but selfish Gaston. Even the voice work gets a lot of love from Ewan McGregor (Lumière), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), and Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts) truly shining with their terrific voice acting performances, as well as delivering many laughs. Dan Stevens as the Beast is also inspired casting and his delivery gets some of the biggest laughs, all while still giving off great chemistry with Emma Watson’s Belle. The only thing that hinges this film from being good to great is the film’s pacing as it is a little slow in places.
The songs will bring out the nostalgic love of audiences across the world who fell in love with the original. This 2017 live-action adaptation will have them falling in love again. While the other Disney live-action films abandoned the whole musical aspect, with the exception of ‘The Jungle Book’, which couldn’t figure out if it was making a musical or not, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ wants to tell its story through songs as old as rhyme. Songs from the animated movie are delivered with glee and delight that will make you start singing the words and tapping your feet to the familiar tunes. The opening song “Belle” is a great way to start the movie while introducing the village and Emma Watson’s Belle (a song which I’ve been repeating since I saw the film – it’s stuck in my head!) “Something There”, which was my favourite song from the animated film, is just as great in this live-action adaptation by exploring the feelings of both sides of the characters. Even some of its newer songs are spectacular, like the Beast’s solo “Evermore”. However, sometimes I wish it wasn’t just almost a straight up remake of the animated film, as some of the other songs aren’t as great compared to the animated film, but they get the job done, including “Be Our Guest” and “Beauty and the Beast”. I almost prefer the pop song version of the latter just because it differentiates it from its animated counterpart.
Just when audiences all over the world have embraced ‘La La Land’ as a global musical phenomenon, here’s another musical that will send people in droves to their local multiplexes, and for good reason. It’s charming, it’s romantic, and it’s delightfully magical. It’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a box office beast that shines with inner-beauty. Be our guest.