Beauty and the Beast is the live action adaptation of the 1991 Disney animated film based on an old fairy tale. The animation is one of the most beloved Disney films and arguably one of the best films, animated or not, of all time.
I think going into the making of this movie there was an “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality for director Bill Condon. If you have seen the original film you already know most of what is going to happen in this film as there are very few departures from the original story. I didn’t watch the ’91 version as much as most other people my generation have and the new additions and changes did not stick out to me at all which suggest the were mostly for the better.
The music of the original is all here, and fits in just as well as it did 26 (feel old?) years ago, and if you aren’t an expert on Beauty and the Beast you may have a hard time saying which of the songs wasn’t in the original, which is a testament to the quality of the music throughout. There has been some rumblings about the singing by Emma Watson but I personally thought it fitted just fine, even if I do feel the rest of the cast are all slightly above her level in terms of singing.
Luke Evans he was born to play the role of Gaston and is perfect as the egotistical arse we all love to hate. Josh Gad as LeFou provides regular comedic relief and him and Evans’ scenes together really stood out for me. The chemistry between Lumiere (Ewan McGregor) and Cogsworth (Ian McKellen) separates them from the rest of the living furniture, with the two’s bickering a constant highlight. The french accent applied by McGregor is a little jarring at first, you quickly get used to it, except when you see him in his human form and the whole thing just doesn’t look right with that voice coming out of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s mouth.
Emma Watson and Dan Stevens take the lead roles of the Belle and The Beast (Why doesn’t he have a name?! I have never understood this. I bet it’s something dull like Graham. No offence to any Grahams reading this but you have a bit of a boring name, sorry to break it to you). Dan Stevens gives some personality to the CGI beast, which is a really good thing considering the CGI isn’t as good as i expected. Whilst the CGI for the living furniture is near flawless, The Beast never quite looked right to me. I am in the minority on this, but the mouth really troubled me throughout and when he is singing it really threw me off.
Emma Watson, whilst I have no qualms saying she is good in this film, I kept having “that’s Emma Watson, she played Hermione” moment in my head whilst i was watching her scenes. It felt too much like Emma Watson acting as Belle, rather than me watching and seeing Belle. It is a difficult problem for her when she’s so famous, but if you think of someone with an even more recognisable face like Brad Pitt or Jennifer Lawrence, they have the ability to disappear into a role and you don’t see the performer, just the character. This is something Emma Watson needs to work on, as there is a step between her and the top actresses around today.
Beauty and the Beast is a worthy adaptation of the 1991 classic, and brings the Tale as old as Time into the modern day. I think what disney is doing is very clever, as this will be a new generations version of Beauty and the Beast, just like my generation had that animated classic. It doesn’t break any new ground or take any real risks, but when you are adapting something so good, there isnt much need for tinkering with it.
8/10 – Fitting adaptation of an old tale for a new generation.