‘Beauty & the Beast’ is the latest in Disney’s attempts to remake some of their animated classics in to live-action movies for modern audiences. This one of course is adapted from their 1991 animated film (which itself is based on a old French fairytale) that was part of Disney’s Renaissance period and the first ever animated film nominated for an Oscar.
I myself have a certain fondness for the animated film as it is one that I watched numerous times as a child and it still holds up well in my mind even though it’s been a good number of years since I last properly watched it. So with that being said I was very interested to see how they were going to pull off their live action version with the few attempts they’ve had thus far at adapting other films having mixed results with ‘The Jungle Book’ adaptation being the best & most successful so far.
So this latest adaptation is directed by Bill Condon (known for the last two Twilight films and Mr Holmes) and features an all-star cast including Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Ewan Mcgregor, Kevin Kline, Emma Thompson and a bunch of others. It’s a very solid movie, one that closely follows the animated version including using the same music and certain dialogue, but also adds it’s own little extra things to make it somewhat stick out, though it does lack a certain charm the animated one had.
So with the story not much has changed aside a few minor things, it’s still the same classic romantic fairytale of unexpected love and looking beneath the surface of a person though still being somewhat superficial and forced. They do add a few new interesting details like making Lafou’s character gay (which has sparked lots of unneeded controversy) and also answering questions, people may have had watching the animated film, like why all the servants in the castle got changed along with the prince. They were nice little touches that I appreciated and I think overall the story was executed well, with the two hour run-time going by at a good pace and the emotional & humorous moments really hitting well.
The acting for most part is pretty good too, I particularly really liked Dan Stevens as The Beast/Prince who had a good presence about him and also thought Luke Evans & Josh Gad were great as Gaston & Lefou, providing alot of entertaining and funny moments. The weakest link with acting however was Emma Watson as Belle, now I don’t think she was necessarily bad but her performance was a little plain and lacking, her singing vocals also appeared to be heavily processed which I didn’t mind so much but I’ve seen alot of people complain about it so it’s all down to how pure you like you vocals. Either way she was out-shined by the rest of the cast which isn’t a good thing if your supposed to be the lead role and it kind of lets the movie down a little. Haven’t really got any other complaints about performances aside maybe Ewan Mcgregor’s dodgy french accent as Lumiere, but other than that I think everyone else did a fine job in their roles especially as the servants.
So I’ve already mentioned that they’ve used the same music and songs from the animated movie, though of course they have been re-arranged and recorded with the new cast and have even added a few new songs of their own, the music was one of the best things about animated version and its no different here, I’ll never tire of hearing those opening piano chords in the overture and aside a few vocals being over processed I think all the new renditions sound good and I liked the new songs they added in, particularly a solo song that is given to the Beast. The songs are not as well written as the originals but they still manage to hit that sweet nostalgia spot and I think a couple of the more ensemble numbers like ‘Belle’ and ‘Gaston’ standout really well especially when paired with their excellent staging.
This of course leads in me to the visual side of things and Beauty & The Beast is an absolutely beautiful film ripe with top notch production design, visual effects and cinematography as is expected with these big Disney productions. Just lots of Gloss & elegance. I will admit I wasn’t sure what to think of how the anthropomorphic servants looked at first, they have a certain coldness about them and lack the charm of their original counterparts but I quickly grew to appreciate and like their designs and I also really liked how The Beast looked, he seemed to have a good mix of CGI & practical effects and had a very majestic appearance. Also as a mentioned alot of the big musical numbers are staged and shot really well making them a visual treat.
Overall I found this to be very entertaining and thought it was a solid effort, it took what made the animated film good and tried to make it work in its own way, which it managed to do with moderate success. It’s got a nice amount of humour and emotion – I’ll admit i teared up a little – is well acted for most part aside Emma Watson’s weaker performance and is visually stunning throughout. The only other highlight I’d like to mention is the climax of the film which I really liked and was one of the best scenes in the movie, arguably even rivalling the animated version, well produced and engaging.
In closing while it doesn’t reach the greatness of the animated classic or do enough to make it really standout, it’s still really well made and has enough there to make it very enjoyable, so I think it’s done as well enough job of bringing this classic to modern audiences.
Story – 7.5/10
Acting – 7/10
Visuals – 8.5/10
Sound – 7.5/10
Entertainment Value – 8/10
Overall: 7.7/10 – Solid
Reviewed by Eric Hart (Blazinhart)