Beauty and the Beast: Dazzling Live-Action Remake Lives Up to the Hype
The latest live-action remake of one of Disney’s most celebrated animated films of all time has been one of the most talked-about and much anticipated cinematic productions of the year. Directed by the Dreamgirls’ Bill Condon, the 2017 reawakening of Beauty and the Beast – a story that was last seen in an animated form over a quarter of a century ago – comes in the form of a dazzling, enchanting and captivating musical which, although not entirely without faults, still finds plenty of ways to do its predecessor proud.
Set in a small provincial village in France, the story follows Belle (Watson); an independent young woman who lives a rather safe but unexciting life with her widowed father, Maurice (Kline). When she’s not busy refusing advances from the town’s resident hunk, the super-vain Gaston (Evans), she likes to spend her days reading and dreaming of a life outside of her small village. When Maurice gets lost in the woods one day during a special delivery, he finds himself in the enchanted castle of The Beast (Stevens) and is quickly imprisoned by the harrowing creature. However, he is soon freed by Belle who has decided to offer herself in exchange.
Initially, there’s not much love shared between the Beast and his new prisoner, however, with time, Belle learns that there is a much softer side to her captor and with the help from the castle’s wait staff who were all turned into household items by a terrible curse – candlestick, Lumiere (McGreggor), mantle clock, Cogsworth (McKellen) and teapot, Mrs. Potts (Thompson) – a unique bond between the two begins to develop, providing courage and hope that the years-long spell may soon be broken.
Re-visualising and recapturing the magical atmosphere and playful life-force of its Oscar-nominated predecessor, Beauty and the Beast is a fantastic accomplishment which delivers on its promise through well-executed live-action, wonderful production design and superb direction.
The story retains the structure of the original whilst at the same time bringing in additional characters – and backstories – for the purpose of widening the film’s world further. It’s an effective approach which brings gravity and depth to the proceeding as well as a much darker and a gloomier polish to the classic tale – a feature which some might take a little getting used to.
Once again serving to be the core of the film, the musical numbers don’t disappoint either with the classics such as ‘Be Our Guest’ and ‘Gaston’ coming out on top. However, new songs don’t provide much to the story whilst both Watson and Stevens prove to be a little weak in the vocal department with the auto-tune especially noticeable in their solo numbers. Fortunately, they both make up for their shortcomings with the acting, whilst the rest of the voice cast, including McGreggor, McKellen and Thompson, bring a substantial amount of heart and soul to their performance making them an instant hit.
Colourful and enthralling, Beauty and the Beast is a winner that despite its minor setbacks, still holds the power to sweep you off your feet.