Since Disney started adapting its animated films to live-action, I’ve been excited about this film journey. 2015’s Cinderella was fantastic, and I doubted it could be topped (it still remains my favourite of the two). Then Disney announced its next live-action adaptation would be Beauty and the Beast. When the first teaser trailer and images were released, I was nervous about the CGI. I shouldn’t have worried. Beauty and the Beast is visually stunning, and the story is adapted well for modern audiences. It’s a film for all ages to enjoy.
In Beauty and the Beast, a cruel prince is cursed. The curse makes everyone in the village forget about his existence, and turns him into Beast (Dan Stevens). Belle (Emma Watson), a young woman living in the village, dreams of a bigger life. She wants adventure and freedom. As one of the village’s few educated women, she’s scorned. Except by Gaston (Luke Evans), who has decided he’ll marry her whether she wants to marry him or not. But when Belle’s dad Maurice (Kevin Kline) happens upon Beast’s castle and steals a rose, she takes his place as prisoner. She soon learns that her and Beast have more in common than it seems, and they begin to bond. Can Beast change his nature? And can the curse be broken?
“Have you really read every one of these books?”
As one of Disney’s more controversial princess films, Beauty and the Beast faced scorn before it even hit the big screen. But the film makes it clear: Belle cannot love Beast unless she’s free. The original fairy tale that our generation grew up with is honoured, and yet the story is modernized and built upon. Some details are changed, yet it improves the story. In this version, Belle and Beast are equals: they are both educated, they both lost a parent, and they both feel like outsiders. They bond over this, bond over books, and accept one another. They have an honest conversation about their future. Thus, the relationship has more foundation than the animation, and the live-action feels stronger and sweeter because of it.
LeFou (Josh Gad), Gaston’s side-kick, is also changed a bit. He has a conscience, and he’s also given his own romantic plot. There’s been controversy over writing in some diversity – like mixed race couples and gay couples – but it’s fantastic Disney is finally being inclusive. The script is truly a great re-telling of a classic tale, and adults and children alike can appreciate this new version of the story. Sure, there’s still some cheesy moments and plot holes, but the changes make the story stronger, and add enough surprises for the film to feel fresh.
“He’s not a monster, Gaston. You are.”
Where would Beauty and the Beast be without stunning visuals and catchy musical numbers? The CGI is done so well that the Beast doesn’t seem out of place. Stevens’ face is visible underneath the CGI thanks to the methods Disney used to create the character (a mixture of motion capture and filming with a body suit). The sets and costumes are colourful and lush, so the film a treat for the eyes. The film is also a delight for those who enjoy musicals. Of course, the original songs are all there. The singing is all very well done, and the choreography suits the characters and tone of the story. There’s also a couple of new songs as well. The weakest songs are Beast’s solo, and the way Emma Thompson sings “Beauty and the Beast” is a little odd.
Beauty and the Beast couldn’t have a better cast. Watson slips into the role so easily, and it’s clear she loves the story. Stevens as Beast is great, and him and Watson create a good dynamic on screen. Evans absolutely shines as Gaston, providing both comic relief and acting as the villain. Gad is known for his comedy, and he doesn’t disappoint. Ewan McGregor gives Lumière an over-the-top French accent, but the character is still fun. Kline as Maurice, Belle’s dad, is one of the characters given more backstory, and Kline plays the grieving dad with sensitivity.
“Well, be my guest!”
If there’s one movie you see this month, it should be Beauty and the Beast. Sure, the tale has its faults, but the classic story is built upon to make it stronger. The comedy is on-point, the visuals are amazing, and the songs are done well. Along with the cast, all of these elements make the film unforgettable. The movie is more inclusive, and honours the original while adding enough for modern audiences. I can’t wait to see what animated film Disney gives the live-action treatment to next.
My Rating: 8.5/10