Title – Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Director – Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1)
Cast – Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, (Voices of) Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci
Plot – In the old country of France, small village dreamer Belle (Watson) finds herself captured by mysterious man turned Beast (Stevens) as the two strike up a friendship that may just lead to a love that will break a curse that’s been placed upon the one-time prince. But with the dastardly Gaston (Evans) setting his eyes on Belle’s affections, nothing will come easy.
“There’s something in him that I simply didn’t see”
Review by Eddie on 24/03/2017
Before we get down to business it’s only right that I admit to never having seen the beloved Beauty and the Beast Disney animation from 1991, a film that clearly holds a special spot in people’s hearts, as well as being regarded as one of quintessential telling’s of the Beauty and the Beast story.
To be even more honest, I’ve never seen or read an iteration of the Beauty and the Beast story at all, for whatever reason, so my feelings leading up towards the release of this modern day retelling of the famous story were probably quite different to many other’s and regardless of how the populace feels about this film as it stands, its already a huge box office smashing hit that will likely see Disney have another film enter into the famed billion dollar club in the coming weeks/months.
Now the actual film itself as directed by Dreamgirls helmer Bill Condon is one that will likely appease hard-core fans and newbies alike thanks to its sumptuous production design and often visually captivating settings but for a story that’s seemingly remained as popular as ever over a number of years, no doubt through its emotionally charged and magical story, this lavishly produced music filled romantic fantasy is a rather cold experience when it comes down to the nitty gritty of love against the odds story at its core.
In the biggest test of her career yet, Hogwarts graduate Emma Watson has the relatively daunting task of bringing screen heroine Belle back to the big time in a performance filled with singing, impressive costume changes and the requirement to act alongside CGI tea-cups and the at the time non-furry beast and she makes a good fist of it without ever really becoming a standout. It shows the still learning actress is capable of carrying a film but it’s unlikely her turn will be regarded as a new Disney staple in the female heroine stakes.
Arguably with the tougher job, still relatively unknown Dan Stevens does a fine job of becoming the Beast, under the disguise of some noteworthy CGI work (the Beast often looks almost photo real in the right circumstances) he performs well but a major problem Condon’s film has is within its chemistry between the two leads and while individually they’re fine, as an on screen budding romance there’s no real fire, merely a flicker and no amount of visual pizazz was ever going to carry the film past a certain point if this was to be the case.
There’s able support from co-stars like Luke Evan’s as the despicable Gaston and Kevin Kline as Belle’s father Maurice while a couple of the A-list voice stars such as Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson try their best to make the various household objects cursed alongside the Beast work, but at times McGregor in particular seems to be trying a little too hard to be French while Thompson’s “poppet” filled script work grates after a while.
The other somewhat lacking component of this updated Beast is the fact that for a musical, a lot of the big singing set pieces never truly fly. Perhaps spoilt from recent musical masterpiece La La Land the big song and dance numbers within Condon’s film are more tolerable than toe-tappingly exciting and bar a nice opening number as Belle sings her way through her local village, the rest of the films well liked and no doubt well known songs do seem to lack that certain magical touch that would’ve made this well-meaning experience fly rather than simply amble along.
This Beauty and the Beast is without doubt a beauty but in the grand scheme of things this box office behemoth is but a pleasant experience without ever threatening to be a great one and while this entertaining popcorn event will be a popular date night pick and a new favourite for little wannabe Disney princesses everywhere, it’s unlikely this re-telling of the ever popular source material will ever be regarded as fondly as its hairy forefathers.
3 “papa’s” out of 5