It’s been more than 25 years since Disney’s animated film version of “Beauty and the Beast” was released, and many have been waiting to see the live-action adaptation that hit theaters on March 17, 2017. It is, as they say, a tale as old as time, but Disney has found a way to inject new life into an ever-popular story.
Review by Jackie Ruth
The new movie stars Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as The Beast, both of whom are from the UK and keep their natural accents – despite the story being set in France. Luke Evans is the villainous Gaston, with Josh Gad at his side as LeFou. The rest of the cast is impressive as well, with the famed servants-turned-houseware being played by Ewan McGregor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci and Audra McDonald, respectively.
The film begins with a voiceover narrative of how The Beast and the rest of the castle’s inhabitants came to be as they are, cursed by an enchantress until The Beast finds true love. Soon after, we see Belle in her village, essentially introduced by the song “Belle,” from the 1991 animated feature. After Gaston tries, and fails, to woo the “odd,” but beautiful young woman, LeFou cheers him up with the musical number for “Gaston,” which proves to the audience that he and Belle could not be more different from each other.
Belle’s father being taken prisoner, and Belle taking his place in The Beast’s castle doesn’t change, and perhaps the most impressively beautiful scene in the film is that of the servants performing “Be Our Guest.” It’s much more over-the-top than in the animated film, with bright colors and brilliant direction from Bill Condon. Though the story is well-known, the romance at the center doesn’t falter for it, retaining its emotional weight. This is a credit to Dan Stevens and Emma Watson, who both give nuanced performances that drift from sadness to anger to humor almost effortlessly.
One of the few weaknesses of this remake is its coloration. In many scenes, particularly one that takes place at the castle toward the end, it’s not mysteriously gloomy, it’s just plain dark. It evokes the same sort of image as a gritty superhero movie might, which isn’t necessarily the right direction to go for a children’s film. “Beauty and the Beast” is at its best when it’s at its brightest, and it is overall a gorgeously made film.
The central plot can be serious and dark at times, and even the action in the film might be too much for some smaller children, but the writing for this movie leaves plenty of room for humor. Josh Gad stands out as LeFou, who is constantly used as comic relief with both his words and his facial expressions. The castle-bound characters of Chip (Nathan Mack), Cogsworth (McKellen), Lumiere (McGregor) all have their share of jokes, though they leave room for Madame Garderobe (McDonald) and Maestro Cadenza (Tucci) as well.
Nearly everyone who enjoys fairy tales or musicals will find something to love in this re-visiting of a classic tale, “Beauty and the Beast.”
Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments below!
Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Jackie has called Austin home since choosing to attend the University of Texas, where she graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism. She loves spending time with her dog, writing about pop culture in all its forms and spending time with friends – eating, drinking and doing trivia. You can follow Jackie on Twitter and Instagram.