Continuing to remake its animated masterpieces, Walt Disney Pictures now brings us a re-make of the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast. Originally screened in 1991, the story of Belle and the cursed prince has captured the hearts of many and when I heard that it was due to be released as a live action musical starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, I was overjoyed.
For those who may not be familiar, Belle (Watson) a book loving young girl lives with her inventor father in a small village. She thrives for adventure and is desperate to get away from the predictable village where every day is the same. A vein and egotistical man named Gaston (Luke Evans) seeks to marry Belle but the beauty isn’t at all interested. After her father stumbles upon a cursed castle in the middle of the forest, Belle sets off to look for him and discovers the castle is inhabited by a beast (Stevens) and his servants who have all been cursed to take the form of household objects. Belle takes her father’s place as the beast’s prisoner and learns that the beast must fall in love, and have that love returned, before the last petal on an enchanted rose falls. If he does not, the curse will not be broken and the beast plus his servants will never return to human form.
The characters were casted brilliantly. At first, I was a little sceptical of Watson playing one of my favourite Disney Princesses but I admit that she bought plenty of life, magic and charm to the role. Sometimes I find her acting can be a bit too serious and questioned whether she could play such an animated role but she really did bring Belle to life. Her singing wasn’t the best but she made up for it by projecting Belle’s sweet character perfectly. Stevens made an excellent Beast, bringing both ferociousness and humour to the role. It fascinated me to learn that he had to act entirely on stilts, even doing the famous waltz on the contraptions! All of the favourites were still present in this re-boot including Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), Lumiere (Ewan McGregor) and Mrs Potts (Emma Thompson).
Two absolute favourite characters of mine are Gaston and LeFou (Josh Gad). Gaston is so egotistical to the point where you just have to laugh along with him and Gad really shines as LeFou, particularly in the “Gaston” number.
The musical numbers were executed perfectly. All the classics from the original animation were included plus three brand new songs. The choreography was faultless in all numbers with the cast dancing and moving around the sets effortlessly. You feel yourself wanting to clap along with the sheer joy of it all! “Be our Guest” is absolutely spectacular with magic truly happening right in front of your eyes and “Beauty and the Beast” is heart warming. Watson looked beautiful in Belle’s iconic yellow gown and both she and Stevens danced perfectly across a glistening ballroom. It’s enough to make anyone’s heart melt.
All the sets brought the magical world of Beauty and the Beast to life. The village where Belle and her father lived looked perfectly charming but small so you could really believe that Belle felt suppressed living in such a place. The castle was terrifyingly beautiful. It had an excellent gothic feel. You could tell that it was once a grand place but has been masked by this awful curse. Throughout the film, you see glimpses of the castle really shining through like the wonderfully bright and spacious library which Belle is taken aback by.
I’m trying to rack my brain to think of a bad word to say about this film but I honestly thought it was excellent. If I was to be really picky, I’d say the CGI wolves in the woods were a little dodgy. They looked a bit too unrealistic and their animated movements really stood out against the live characters. However, this wasn’t too much of a burden on the scenes.
Full of colour, magic, music, laughter and plenty of love, Beauty and the Beast did not disappoint and I was so invested for the entire two hours that the ending even bought a tear to my eye. Bravo Disney, bravo.