By Jay Hunter – After Cinderella, Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland and so on, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the next in a long line of live-action re-tellings of the studios animated classics. Aiming to refashion the classic characters from the tale (as old as time) for a new audience, whilst echoing the original quite closely it also does it’s best to add more depth and several new songs written by original composer Alan Menkin – who won two academy awards for the original animated film.
After hitting some – ridiculous – controversy for it’s diverse cast and a potentially gay character, who is wonderfully written, instead of one dimensional. The movie stars a brilliant cast including, Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou; Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza. Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts, directed by Directed by Oscar winner Bill Condon who done Gods and Monsters, couple of the Twilight movies and wrote Chicago.
Following the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realise the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within.
Beauty and the Beast is wonderfully cast, everyone fits their part wonderfully, although it takes some time to warm to beast, which was a worry for many before going in. At times I the movie is reminiscent of a stage play – albeit a very expensive one – which is a pretty good summation of the movie itself. In that, it doesn’t quite recapture the magic of the first movie, but it is impressive in it’s own right. It does a great job at adding more depth to the characters and backstory, in fact it incorporates French history in a really impressive manner and it looks wonderful. Luke Evans as Gaston is quite clearly the standout character, with a brilliant scenery chewing performance – which is exactly what the role calls for. In saying that, the live-action doesn’t elevate the story like the recent live action Jungle Book movie from Jon Faverau did, it actually seems to make it a little bit awkward. The chemistry between Emma Watson and Dan Stevens isn’t quite there and does seem rushed, whilst the songs don’t have as much weight to them, although I did still get goosebumps at part. All in all Beauty and the Beast is throughly enjoyable, characters such as the talking household items, that weren’t necessarily the favourite parts of the original were brilliant in this and I got a lot of laughs out of them and a lot of enjoyment from the movie.