This review is spoiler free.
This version of Beauty and the Beast surpasses the original Disney animation in which it is based on. A bold statement for sure, but it is justified.
It has all the iconic moments and songs you remember, but it adds to the world and characters, bringing a lot more depth and meaning to the story.
For starters, all the niggling questions that were never explained from the original get answered. We wanted to know why nobody had stumbled upon the castle before. We wanted to know why the servants were also punished. The smallest details were explained and everything just clicked into place, providing a much richer and concise story.
We get new songs and new additional story. Adding new material to a well-known story can be a challenging. Sometimes you can add extra story into a film and it adds little to the narrative. Not the case in Beauty and the Beast though. Every new element they add enhances the story and its characters. This is in no way a scene-for-scene remake.
So what about the characters?
Emma Watson is the Belle we have longed for. She surpassed her animated equivalent and will act as a source of inspiration for young children everywhere. And if you were worried about being hit over the head with a ‘feminist agenda’, then get a grip. She was perfect. She was strong and independent, but with so much warmth and heart to her character. If we are lucky, this will set the tone for other Disney Princesses in future live action films.
Dan Stevens brought a new layer to the character of Beast, he brought more warmth and humour. The chemistry between Ewan McGregor and Sir Ian McKellen also worked very nicely. It’s a daunting task to take on Angela Lansbury’s iconic performance as Mrs Potts, but if anyone can do it, and do it well, it’s Emma Thompson. Her performance of ‘Tale As Old As Time’ was refreshing, but she did say poppet one too many times. Kevin Kline and Josh Gad were also very strong in their unique portrayals of Maurice and LeFou.
As good as the supporting cast were, there was one who stood above the rest.
Luke Evans stole the movie as the egotistical Gaston. His take on the role may have taken some of the humour away from the character, but added some much-needed realism. He was insidious throughout, but with a charm that made him compelling viewing. His songs were the strongest in the movie and he brought an extra level of complexity to the character that was previously missing.
In 2017 we don’t really know why we even need to mention a character’s sexuality, but the film took some flack for it. It’s safe to say LeFou’s story arc had a very positive reaction in the screening, which was very pleasing to witness. The film also, on more than one occasion and with different characters, did some very positive things for the LGBT community. While these are small steps, they hopefully will encourage more diverse representation in mainstream cinema in the future.
Great characters, compelling storytelling and a whole host of classic and original songs. What else could make this movie even more perfect? Great set designs and costumes!
Beauty and the Beast is a shoe-in for some Oscar nods. One aspect in particular that they may claim gold with, is the breathtaking set design and wonderful costumes. The entire visual world they have built in Beauty and the Beast is truly unique, and it has to be one of the most ‘pleasing on the eye’ films made in recent times.
Lots of good things so far right? Surely there’s nothing that this film gets wrong? Well actually, there are one or two minor issues.
First of all, there were some strange editing choices in some key scenes that were not the best, and the use of 360 panning shots are overused. But even these few negatives do not harm the overall quality of the film. The film is just too strong.
Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful and emotional journey that surpasses the original material on which it is based. A phenomenal cast is supported by mature and refined storytelling, fantastic visuals and a whole host of classic and original musical numbers.