Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Beauty and the Beast (2017) - Film Review


Since I don't have the same attachment to the original Disney film most people have (I only saw it for the first time a few days ago), I was much more open to this new live-action adaptation. I've found Disney's live-action reboots pretty succesful for the most part, The Jungle Book in particuarly being spectacular.

I didn't have much hope for Beauty and the Beast, but to my surprise, I ended up loving it far more than I possibly imagined. While it might not be as strong as the 1991 version, this holds up on its own as a beautiful, heartfelt and funny romance that mostly hits all the right notes.

Dan Stevens and Emma Watson as The Beast and Belle
What struck me first is just how beautiful and elaborate everything is, from set-design to costumes to special effects, everything on display is a feast for your eyes. It's a bring, colour and vibrant film. It was hard to take everything in on a first watch, but it was wonderful. My only fault with the designs had to be the Cogsworth and Lumiere, whose designs look a bit weird to say the least and the lack the simplistic charm of the original Disney film.

In terms of performances, everyone was pretty great. Dan Stevens was fantastic as the Beast, jumping from anger, sadness and genuine warmth and giving a compelling performance even under all that CGI. Emma Watson was decent as Belle, her singing may have been a bit autotuned, but she did a good job overall. Their relationship is touching and genuinely worth investing in, making for a some emotionally resonate moments I had no idea would reach me the way it did. It was really funny too, a scene with a snowball came out of nowhere and nearly killed me.

Luke Evans stole the show as Gaston, who played it much less disgusting and rapey than the previous version. His inherent narscissism and self-obsession led to some of the films funniest moments. As did his assistant, LeFou, Disney's first openely gay live-action character. He might not have been "openely" gay as what I'd heard, but it was fine and I'm glad Disney are adding equality and diversity to the film. I'm hoping they go a step further in future films.

Josh Gad and Luke Evans as LeFou and Gaston
I may have criticised the design of Cogsworth and Lumiere, but Ian McKellen and Ewan McGregor both do scene-stealing jobs. I had my worries about McGregor's French accent (His career has a fair few misguided accents), but he pulled it off extremely well. Ian McKellen may have given me the biggest laugh of the whole film one of his final scenes.

Lumiere and Cogsworth voiced by Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen

Despite my apprehension towards musicals, I was pretty won over by most of the songs. A fair few of them I quite liked. A lot of them were lifted directly from the original animation, but even some of the new ones were good in their own right. My biggest problem with last years Jungle Book film was how out of the place the musical numbers were within the film, luckily Beauty and the Beast did not suffer from the same problem.

Beauty and the Beast was a pleasant surprise, a visually astonishing, funny, heartfelt and worthy remake that stands its own ground against an already fantastic film. More of this, Disney.

9/10 Dans

Beauty and the Beast is out now in theaters in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

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