If this live action remake has taught me anything it’s just how much people love the original animated ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Whilst I can recognise it as a good film and a definite Disney classic I just don’t hold it in as high regard as others. What can I say I’m more of an ‘Aladdin’ kind of guy. I thought this could work in my favour though. As I wasn’t over familiar with every detail of the story and wouldn’t be constantly comparing the two films I figured my potential for enjoyment could be higher than others.
I was pleasantly surprised that the story wastes no time in getting started and continues with this momentum for the entirety of the run time. There aren’t any overlong or unnecessary scenes which there was definitely potential for. The editing work here has kept the story nicely succinct. As far as I can remember the story is largely the same as the much loved one from the animation. There a few new elements but nothing so drastic as to change the overall feel of the film. The romantic aspect is handled very well. With the risk of the romance dominating the film the screenwriters have allocated just the right amount of time for it. The content of the relationship had the perfect balance of emotion, humour and sincerity as well. There is a lot of heart in this remake, and it’s to be found in more than just this central relationship. It’s never overdone and instead feels natural in all of its existence. The same can be said of the humour. It’s effortlessly injected throughout the whole film and constantly delivers big laughs. Despite all these successes many will argue that these are all present in the original film and there’s still no need for the remake. However, when the film reaches its finale I feel it gives this remake a real reason to exist. The spectacle and action in this final act were wonderful. It creates such a sense of scale which was a joy to watch on the big screen.
Another touchy subject I imagine will be the songs. I’ll be the first to admit that I really only know the big numbers from this movie so couldn’t tell which songs were new and which were from the original. On the whole I found the songs to be really fun and they transported me right into the centre of the story. There are a few songs in the middle of the film which are fairly unmemorable and blend into one. They never over stay their welcome though so didn’t ever become a problem. The music, new and old, songs and score suited the feel of the film beautifully and was an essential element in the success of the remake.
One of the other major highlights of this remake has to be the cast. Seeing much loved actors play such well known characters has to go in favour of the revisiting classic stories, trusted they do these characters justice. There is a large number of supporting characters in this story so credit is due for giving each of them their moment in the spotlight. The various parts of the castles furniture are brought to life wonderfully by the voice talents of Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci and many more. It’s Ewan McGregor’s Lumière that stands out most in this group though. Very much anchoring the chemistry that these characters have with his French accent and mischievous personality. Outside the castle walls we have Luke Evans as the villainous Gaston. Never too far away is his right hand man, LeFou played by Josh Gad. This pair were comedic gold and played off each other brilliantly. Often they stole the show and the performance from Luke Evans was a personal favourite of mine. Of course there’s also the small matter of the Beauty and of the Beast. Emma Watson is good in the role of Belle, however she’s never great. At times she comes across a little too polished and feels a tad stage school. Nonetheless her performance is far from bad and she benefits from the shared screen time with the array of supporting characters. The Beast certainly looks the part with the impressive effects work. Although, he might be a little scary for young children. Dan Stevens works well as the Beast and does a good job with his limited screen time as the Prince. It’s the strength of the ensemble that has been brought together though that makes for such a charming film.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ continues the string of successful Disney live action remakes. It’s magical compilation of supporting characters is easily the highlight. However, there’s much else to be enjoyed here. With comedy, heart and romance in equal measure this tale as old as time enjoys new life breathed into every aspect of it. Being the first fully fledged musical live action remake I think a whole new generation are about to fall in love with ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
Rating – 8.5/10
Question: What is your favourite Disney live action remake?
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