Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans
Director: Bill Condon
Running Time: 129 mins
Beauty And The Beast is an American film about a learned young woman stuck in a small provincial French town who, after saving her father, is imprisoned by a cursed beast. Over time, however, she begins to see there’s more beneath the monster, and grows closer to the man who was once her captor.
This is such a nice film. Taking Disney back to their roots of what makes a good fairytale blockbuster, it’s a fantastically vibrant, entertaining and traditional movie that’ll have you smiling from start to finish. It’s very similar to the original film, but as far as remakes go, Disney have done a fantastic job again, making Beauty And The Beast an absolutely wonderful watch.
I know that there’s so much adoration for the 1991 animation, but I’ve never been its biggest fan. As nice as it is, it didn’t always have that same Disney magic that I really love, so I wasn’t going into this with my nostalgia goggles on, nor with any particularly high expectations.
That said, I had a great time with this movie. Above all, its traditional feel makes it a properly enchanting watch, bringing back the classic Disney magic of the 1950s and 90s that we haven’t really seen anywhere on the big screen since.
Unlike 2016’s The Jungle Book and 2014’s Maleficent, Beauty And The Beast doesn’t hold back when mirroring its predecessor, but it doesn’t make one bit of difference, simply because it’s such a pleasant and magical film.
On the one hand, fans of the original will get a wonderful burst of nostalgia with the return of classic characters and musical numbers, but also, the classic vibes of the film will make you remember why you love all those old Disney movies. You may think that the fairytale formula has been beaten into the ground, but watching this film, with its hugely traditional feel, felt very refreshing.
There’s nothing about this film that tries to be clever and different to what we know can make such an enjoyable watch. With no dark revisionism, no switching of roles, and no hesitation to burst into song whenever it feels like it, Beauty And The Beast feels like the Disney movie of old that’s been missing for so many years, and that pleasant, colourful and fun-loving classic vibe is exactly what makes it such a wonderful watch that will easily have you smiling ear to ear by the end.
Along with the excellent direction and writing that allow for the film to be such a triumphant return to the classic Disney way, the performances here are excellent, with a delightful turn from Emma Watson as Belle, a whole host of hilarious A-listers as the furniture at the Beast’s castle, Josh Gad’s funniest role since Frozen as Le Fou, and a fantastically villainous performance from Luke Evans as the dashingly evil Gaston.
And on top of those performances are some stunning visuals. Although the CGI of the Beast isn’t quite on the level of The Jungle Book, the castle exterior is amazingly created, whilst the real-life production design places you as firmly in a magical version of rural France as the animated film, and the exquisite costume design adds even more to the enchanting feel of it all.
I have to say that I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this film, particularly given how close it is to the original, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely problem-free. For one, as good as a lot of the musical numbers are, they do occasionally feel a little out of the blue. It’s not a huge issue, but the way that the songs are brought into scenes is a little off from time to time, not to mention the fact that the film’s second half is a lot more jam-packed with music than the first.
Another issue with the music comes in the form of some unfortunate meddling with Emma Watson’s voice. She may not be the greatest singer in the world, but what’s most disappointing is that her singing sequences are heavily autotuned, and it’s very distracting, particularly in comparison to either hiring another singer or just letting her sing naturally.
Finally, the Beast is a little bit of a disappointment. For me, the animation managed to capture the character’s inner turmoil a lot better, and as such make his transformation through the film even stronger. Whilst it’s not bad here, and Dan Stevens’ performance is fine, I felt that the CGI Beast wasn’t quite the emotional presence that I wanted him to be.
Overall, however, I had a wonderful time with Beauty And The Beast. A surprising improvement on the original in my book, but most of all a beautiful return to the classic Disney style, with a pleasant, vibrant, and wonderfully traditional vibe from start to finish, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.