Disney are full steam ahead with live action remakes of their beloved animated classics, with Pete’s Dragon and The Jungle Book getting the treatment last year. This year however sees Disney take the biggest risk yet with a live action remake of Beauty and the Beast, which is widely thought of as one of the studio’s best ever animated films and loved by so many of all ages around the world.
Beauty and the Beast tells the tale of Belle (Emma Watson), a girl seen as strange by the rest of her fellow villagers but sought after by the arrogant Gaston (Luke Evans). When Belle learns of her father, Maurice (Kevin Kline), being held captive in a hidden castle, she takes his place, becoming the prisoner of Beast (Dan Stevens), a once handsome prince cursed by an enchantress for not seeing that true beauty lies within, before they fall in love with one another.
As soon as Beauty and the Beast finished, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Not because it had finished and I couldn’t wait to get out of there but because Disney had avoided tarnishing their animated classic and had actually made a very good film, much better than I was expecting anyway.
Lavish in both its production and costume design, Beauty and the Beast very much looks the part of a live action Disney adaptation with gorgeous practical sets and colourful frocks aplenty. The visual effects, as expected these days, really are very good as well, bringing the film and its animated characters to life with great verve, particularly Lumiere, Cogsworth and Beast.
The film has faced many people before release claiming it to be a pointless remake however, when they do as good a job as they do with this film then I fail to see where they are coming from. Bill Condon has made a film that clearly respects the animated version while adding new elements that don’t do the film any harm at all. This is a very fun film as well, thanks to some high energy musical numbers, Gaston and Be Our Guest being my personal favourites, while I’m very glad to say the John Legend and Ariana Grande version of Beauty and the Beast does not accompany one of the film’s most important moments, instead being rightfully sung by Mrs. Potts.
Coming to the performances, Beauty and the Beast features a cast that all deliver commendable performances in both acting and singing departments. Emma Watson makes for a very good Belle, even if her over pronunciation of words does continue to irritate me and her singing really did take me by surprise. I was a bit skeptical to start with but as the film progressed, I felt more comfortable listening to her sing. Dan Stevens and Luke Evans can sing pretty damn well too, Evans doing it with suitable amounts of arrogance as Gaston. The real star of the show though is Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, who steals the show with a brilliant vocal performance that includes a brilliant rendition of Be Our Guest.
So Beauty and the Beast is a very good time at the cinema that takes its place just behind The Jungle Book when it comes to the best live action Disney remakes. Oh, and the gay moment that was made into a big deal prior to its release, is nothing but a mountain out of a molehill. Bring on The Lion King and Mulan.
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