“A tale as old as time” Beauty & the Beast review

Beauty & the Beast review: by Adam Brannon

UK certification: PG

14859347_1040969846011519_1192281544_o-copyWhichever big wig down at Disney decided it would be a good idea to remake all of their animated classics using live-action is surely due a massive promotion. The studio’s reputation is soaring after the acquisition of Marvel and Lucasfilm and this new way of thinking is paying off at the box office.

Last year’s The Jungle Book earned just shy of $1billion worldwide, their Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken upwards of $5billion and don’t get me started on Star Wars. Continuing the studio’s trend of remaking their animated features is Beauty & the Beast, but does this modern day reimagining of a fairly modern classic conjure up memories of 1991?

Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff including Cogsworth (Ian McKellen) and Lumiere (Ewan McGregor) and tries her best to learn to look beyond the beast’s hideous exterior, allowing her to recognise the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.

There were gasps of shock when Harry Potter actress Emma Watson was cast as Belle, but thankfully after sitting through 129 minutes of her singing and dancing, there is no reason to be concerned. She slots into the role of a Disney princess with ease, though it’s still incredibly difficult to see her as anything but the talented witch from Hogwarts.


Photo by Disney.

The rest of the cast is very good with the exception of Ewan McGregor’s dreadful French accent. It can be forgiven however because the sense of nostalgia that the castle’s staff bring to the table is wonderful. Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci all lend their voices with Thompson taking over from Angela Lansbury beautifully. Her rendition of the iconic titular song brings goose bumps.

Elsewhere, Luke Evans is an excellent choice to play villainous Gaston. It’s hard to imagine anyone better to play the gluttonous womaniser and Josh Gad is sublime as his sidekick.

Dan Stevens’ transformation into Beast is one that’s a little bit harder to judge. There is no doubt he is up to the task of playing this iconic character, but the limits of current motion capture technology can sometimes render him a little playdoh like. There are fleeting moments when the illusion is shattered because of something as trivial as the way his fur moves.

Nevertheless, the rest of the special effects are absolutely top notch. The costumes and the set design all integrate perfectly with the naturally heavy use of CGI to create a film that harks back to its predecessor in every way.

Whilst not as dark as last year’s The Jungle Book, Beauty & the Beast is still a deeply disturbing film at times, made all the more so by its recreation in live-action. Young children may find it a troubling watch, a reason why the BBFC has awarded it a PG rating rather than the typical U that most other Disney features receive.

Overall, Beauty & the Beast is a faithful recreation of its 1991 predecessor and that comes with its own set of challenges. The animated version is widely regarded as one of Disney’s best films, so director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Twilight) had massive shoes to fill. For the most part, he’s succeeded in crafting a visually stunning and poignant movie that’s only drawbacks are its length and poor motion capture. Much better than Cinderella, but not quite as ground-breaking as The Jungle Book, it’s a lovely watch for all the family.

Budget: $160million/Music: Alan Menken/Length: 129 minutes

:star: :star: :star: :star:

3 thoughts on ““A tale as old as time” Beauty & the Beast review

  1. We loved it! Emma Watson won’t be winning any Oscars for her performance but I still enjoyed her in this role and she definitely looked the part of Disney princess.
    Visually, I thought it looked brilliant – loved all the historic details and beautiful sets. Will look forward to watching this again.

  2. For me it was a film with a fabulous and colourful opening scene, that continued with a slow start but got more comfortable into the latter half.

    I thought Emma Watson was brilliantly cast and had a surprising voice. All credit to her. Equally I thought the casting of Gaston and his sidekick where brilliant and almost made the movie for me.

    Some of the dialogue was very difficult in the sense that it was very corny, particularly the stereotype French words (‘sacre-bleh’ etc) that caused many eye rolls in our house.

    Only point I disagree with you on was the beast CGI – I don’t think I could find fault with it.

    For me, a 4/5 star film.

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