It’s hard to imagine any adaptation of Walt Disney’s Beauty And The Beast to be as successful as the 1991 original. With all of Disney’s animated films being timeless classics consumed by generation after generation, adapting such a beloved film into live action movie for modern audiences is a risky task. Disney has certainly pulled it off, however, with their brand new Beauty And The Beast film featuring an all-star cast including Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline and Emma Thompson.
The film follows essentially the same plot as its animated counterpart, and the classic fairy tale, in which a young girl takes her father’s place as a prisoner in a mysterious, dark and enchanted castle ruled by a terrifying and monstrous beast. With whom, of course, she eventually falls in love.
While following essentially the same storyline, this new version makes certain additions which are simply unneeded appendages. One of these is the backstory of Belle’s mother and the truth behind her absence. Yes, it’s nice to know why she was absent from Belle’s life, and why Belle and her father lived alone in a cottage, but implication rather than spoon-fed explanation would have sufficed. These additions assumes that its audience isn’t capable of piecing the story together without the help of the film’s creators.
The cast does a fantastic job of bringing such memorable characters to life in a way that pays tribute to the original, and Lumiere (McGregor), Gaston (Evans), LeFou (Gad) and the Beast (Stevens) all give outstanding performances.
Evans’ and Gad’s rendition of ‘Gaston’ is almost Grammy-worthy, and the way in which the scene is depicted is thoroughly enjoyable. LeFou’s character is far more engaging, witty and all- round enjoyable compared to his animated counterpart. Sadly, that can’t be said for Cogsworth (McKellen), whose sarcastic comments and complaints are missing from this version, where Cogsworth appears to be rather frail, old and cowardly.
In addition, Madame Garderobe’s (Audra McDonald) excessive loud opera bellowing loud, piercing and plain annoying. Where in the original animated film, Madame Garderobe consoled Belle after being imprisoned and encouraged her to have dinner with the Beast, in this version she keeps falling asleep, which isn’t even amusing.
Despite certain moments that could easily be forgotten, the new Beauty And The Beast utilises all the same songs as the original animated film, and even adds some original numbers, such as the Beast’s own solo, which is quite delightful. The only real gripe about the music is that Emma Watson isn’t close to being a decent singer, while she also came across as too posh and English, rather than the original’s sweet, innocent yet gentle, caring poor French girl.
The best thing about the new Beauty And The Beast is the amount of detail, colour and variety that went into the costumes. In terms of visual effects, the ‘Be Our Guest’ number is absolutely stunning, and one of the most colourful moments in film this year. The use of brilliant CGI should also be noted, as all non-human characters looked exceptionally detailed and rather antique.
Overall, Beauty And The Beast is a true testament of the magic of Disney. With a brilliant cast comprising of some big names and an enchanting tale that will continue to ignite the fairytale spark in generations to come, Beauty And The Beast is a must watch.
Beauty and the Beast is screening now in cinemas.
* This review was first published on www.thevanguardsite.com