A new version of a tale as old as time
March 26, 2017
Filed under Opinion
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“Beauty and the Beast” is Disney’s most iconic classic. After being the first animated film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and the first Disney film to be adapted into a Broadway Musical. Now it is Disney’s first live action musical adaptation of a princess movie.
Director Bill Condon attempts to fill in plot holes while still remaining faithful to the original, by adding new songs and expanding the story line for each of the original characters. The film captures the beauty of the original in its performances and design, but lacks the magic.
Emma Watson stars as the intelligent Belle who doesn’t fit into her village simply because she’s smart and spends all her time reading. After her father (Kevin Kline) is taken prisoner by the Beast (Dan Stevens), she trades places with him and meets the other enchanted occupants of the castle. All are cursed to remain inhuman until the Beast learns to love and is loved in return.
Each character is perfectly cast. Watson does an amazing job capturing Belle’s intelligence and kindness. In the dazzling “Be Our Guest” scene Watson does an incredible job of acting delighted the over the top performance, especially noting that nothing was actually in front of her. The moments when she sings however, are a little underwhelming. Watson’s singing is good, just not Disney Princess good.
Stevens gives a wonderful performance and portrays the Beast as more intelligent and humane than the original. His relationship with Belle also comes across as more genuine.
Ewan McGregor’s does a fine job as Lumiere during the musical numbers, despite his obvious fake and sometimes cringey french accent. The remaining voice actors, Ian Mckellen (Cogsworth), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette), Audra McDonald (Madame Garderobe), and Stanley Tucci (Maestro Cadenza) all capture the spirit of the characters well.
The best performances come from Luke Evans as Gaston, and Josh Gad as Lefou. Evans is incredible at portraying the same arrogance and self-absorbed character as the original. Gad is funny as Lefou and it is easy to tell he enjoyed making this.
The shots of Belle’s village and the castle are stunning, and the characters come to life. By emphasizing the Beast’s human eyes, Disney plays on the fact that he is literally a man trapped in the beast form. The remaining CGI characters look too realistic, and that it is hard to get over. It becomes harder for the audience to connect with these characters emotionally.
The large musical numbers including “Be Our Guest” and the iconic ballroom scene are just as colorful and visually pleasing as one would hope.
For fans of the animated version Beauty and the Beast is a wonderful tribute to the original, not as good as it, but no one really expected it to be.
Runtime: 130 min
Director: Bill Condon