Monday, 20 March 2017

'Beauty and The Beast' Review

Belle (Emma Watson) is an intelligent young woman who lives with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline). One day when Maurice goes out to sell goods, he is taken prisoner by a Beast (Dan Stevens) who mistakes Maurice as an intruder. Belle takes her father's place as the Beast's prisoner. It soon becomes known that the Beast is a prince who has been transformed due to his inability to love someone. As time goes on, Belle becomes closer to the Beast as he looks to finally break the curse.

Tale as old as time, the 'Beauty and The Beast' live action remake is finally here! After the great successes from live action remakes of 'Cinderella' and 'The Jungle Book', nothing seems to be safe from being brought to life. As someone who enjoyed both films, I was fairly excited as this news as there is plenty within 'Beauty and The Beast' which could be brought to life with that special Disney magic. Although it is fair to consider these remakes unnecessary, there is plenty to enjoy and marvel at in this live-action version of the first ever Best Picture nominated animated film.

With these live action remakes, there are many important aspects that the film has to succeed with in order for it to be a success. For one, you have to make sure that you do the characters justice, especially those who are beloved by fans. Emma Watson is great as Belle in what is a near perfect casting. Watson is known to be a clever young woman and this transcends into her performance, there's just more singing involved for her. The supporting characters like Kevin Kline as Maurice and Josh Gad as LeFou were both great with Kline bringing emotion to the film and Gad bringing humour with some quippy lines. The one character that could have been done better is Gaston, portrayed by Luke Evans. In no ways is this a bad performance, it's just that Gaston as a character is very cartoony. Gaston is over the top with his arrogance which may be hard to replicate within the film. Evans never really comes across as a truly despicable human who is as self-centred as the original portrayal was. In saying that, there are many moments where Evans shines, especially during his self-titled song and during the finale of the film. Just a little more of that Gaston arrogance would've really nailed this portrayal of a very memorable Disney character.

The non-human characters in the film have a similar fate as for the most part, they are handled and performed exceptionally well. This was perhaps the biggest challenge as it is easier to bring human characters to life as you simply use actors that resemble them. Much like in 'The Jungle Book', CGI characters are made up for the likes of Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth (Ian McKellen) and Mrs Potts (Emma Thompson). The fun, cartoon characters are replaced to look like realistic objects to tremendous results. The characters look great and the vocals are great throughout, both in dialogue and in song. The only one problem with the CGI characters, unfortunately, is with the Beast himself. The Beast is not up to the same standard as everything else in the film, looking clearly animated and out of place at times. This is fairly disappointing as Disney had done so well with the creatures in 'The Jungle Book' but they weren't able to replicate the same results yet again.

The original film's runtime is 84 minutes with this remake changing that to a longer run time of 130 minutes. With this, you would maybe feel inclined that there is a lot more that has been included in the film. In reality, there isn't much changed from the original film but with some more details added in. There's nothing game-changing in the new version but there are some good moments where the film ties up some loose ends, like what happened to Belle's mother. The story is handled very well as it doesn't mess around with the elements that made the original so great. The magic and message are still ever as apparent in this remake which is the main goal for these films. Although it is the same story and message redone, there is no denying that this is handled with the utmost care. The newest version of the tale is one that families and younger children will definitely love.

There are new songs introduced in this film but what will be stuck in your head are the classics you remember from the 1991 version. The new versions of 'Gaston', 'Be Our Guest' and the titular song are all great and even more magical as they are brought to life. The songs are still ever as catchy but the choreography, settings and costume all help to make these moments extremely enjoyable. The musical moments of the film are great to watch although the newer songs don't hit the mark nearly as much. In saying that, it is a complete joy to see these moments brought to life. The animated version is still great to watch but it is something else seeing these sequences be brought to life. There is a high appreciation for the effort gone into these moments. Claims that this film is lazy can be rubbished entirely due to moments like the Gaston song where you can see costume designers, set designers, actors and the director all coming together to make something that is not only special, but a pleasure to watch.

As far as these Disney remakes go, this is my favourite so far. Is this a perfect remake? No. But does it still carry that all important message that it is what inside that counts with a person? Absolutely. Is it still a highly entertaining musical that will leave you humming the songs for days? Yes. Is the magic still there? Yes. This film succeeds on many levels and is sure to bring great enjoyment to those who see it.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Beauty and The Beast'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film or not! Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

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