Oh what a treat this film was. I must admit, I was a little bit concerned when they announced Beauty and the Beast would be the next live action remake as it is one of my favourite animations. And even when the impressive casting was announced I was still a little pessimistic. But, last night I went to watch it. And I loved it.
Beauty and the Beast is directed by Bill Condon (Mr Holmes, Twilight) and stars Emma Watson (Harry Potter) as Belle, Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, The Guest) as the Beast, Luke Evans (Dracula Untold, The Hobbit) as Gaston, Josh Gad (Frozen, The Angry Birds Movie) as LeFou, Ewan McGregor (Star Wars, Trainspotting) as Lumiere, Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings, X-Men) as Cogsworth and Emma Thompson (Love Actually, Nanny McPhee) as Mrs Potts.
Now, if you’ve not seen the original animated film, the basic plot is a castle gets cursed and the prince is turned into a beast. the curse can only be broken once someone falls in true love with the Beast. Along comes Belle and you get the idea.
Now, first of all I’ll start with the negatives. Although I did enjoy the film, there were a couple of issues.
First of all, a couple of the songs didn’t quite hit the right notes (that’s a pun). Although I appreciated the added context (more on that later) I felt some of the songs, or at least parts of them, could have been cut.
Another minor issue I had was with the acting. Admittedly it did get better as the film went on, but within the first 15-20 minutes or so some of the acting was very very wooden. And this wasn’t from the small extra roles, this came from Emma Watson. I don’t know why but her first few lines just felt very plain and stilted, as if she was reading directly from the page with no emotion. Like I said, it got better, but that’s still not an excuse.
My final issue with the film would have to be some of the editing, especially during the action sequences. Sometimes the editing was so quick and jumpy that I became disorientated and couldn’t quite pinpoint where each of the characters were supposed to be within the scene. Again, not all the action sequences are like this, but there are some moments and it became a little distracting.
Now, onto the pros!
First up, Luke Evans. He was the perfect choice for Gaston. Going into the film I still had Nathan Fillion (Firefly) in my head as Gaston. But Evans quickly changed my opinion. He oozed charm when he needed to. He easily put across the vanity that Gaston showed in the original animation, including the admiring self in the mirror scene, which got a hefty chuckle from the audience. As well as this, however, Evans still added a sense of anger to the character, something the animated version didn’t quite have, this is especially highlighted (kind-of spoiler alert) when Gaston easily leaves Belles father to be eaten by wolves.
Secondly, the inclusion of the Evermore song was an inspired choice. The song added a much needed emotional connection to the Beast. Up until now we’d only really seen the Beast with Belle, even in the animated film the Beast didn’t have much screen time alone. This song, however, made you connect with him and allowed you to truly understand how he felt about the curse and about his feelings towards Belle. Definitely a song i’d listen to again.
Next up, the look, this film was stunning. The cinematography, set design and costume design all made Beauty and the Beast one of the most visually beautiful films I have ever seen. Just the design of the furniture alone is incredible. Then you add the costume design of Belle’s ball dress and the Beasts suit as well as the look of the castle and the village and you get one truly stunning film.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, the added context. This film adds a little more detail to Belles past life and even a bit of Gastons. I won’t spoil any of it here, as it was a nice surprise for me to see this added, but the context the film added to the characters’ history made them seem a lot more relatable and gave you a bit more of an emotional connection, especially with Belle and her father.
Overall, Beauty and the Beast was a surprise. I really enjoyed it, despite already knowing the plot, and the added songs gave the film a little bit more depth and originality. The cast brought this film to life and portrayed their animated counter-parts perfectly. I strongly recommend this film to any Disney fan, any Beauty and the Beast fan and any movie fan. It’s truly amazing.
Beauty and the Beast: 4.5/5