Beauty and the Beast (2017)

I have heard many complaints about this movie, mostly around it being a live-action adaptation of the original Disney animated version, however this will not disappoint. A movie that is full of enchantment, emotion, humour and romance; it has everything that the original does, but the live-action makes everything more powerful.

This is the well-known tale of the smart and beautiful young woman living in a small village in France, who comes to be the prisoner of The Beast and is befriended by the animated furnishings in his castle. It was back in 1991 that Disney brought us their first version of the fairy tale written in the 1740’s by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, with many falling in love with the character that is Belle.

It is 2017 and Disney have done it again with the next instalment of their live-action remakes.  After a few weeks of trying to decide whether I wanted to see a live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, I finally took the plunge and I was nicely surprised with the outcome.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) sees Emma Watson as Belle, giving a wonderful onscreen performance that showcased her amazing singing talent as she belts out the songs that goes with the part.  The actress couldn’t be faulted during any part of the story and it must show as the won the MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Actor in a Movie for her role in this movie.

Alongside our leading lady, Luke Evans shows himself to be a fantastic Gaston.  Evans shows us that he can be smug, self-centred and a damn-right bastard; a fantastic Gaston.  I’m not completely sure that he would have been my first choice as who to cast for this part, but then I think it is difficult to find someone who would be able to play the character as well as Evans did.  It is easy to think many actors would either under or over play the traits, so congratulations must go to the casting of this remake.

As with many live-action movies that contain animated inanimate objects and characters, there is a difficulty in making things realistic enough to fit perfectly with the feel of the movie, however Disney’s animation team have managed to do a wonderful job keeping some of the magic from the 1991 animated version, as well as maintaining the humour of Cogsworth and Lumiere (voiced by Sir Ian McKellen and Ewan McGregor, respectively). The major change that was noted is with the appearance of Fifi, the feather duster, as she has had quite a transformation.  In the original animated version, Fifi is a fairly standard looking feather duster with a wooden handle.  In the latest version, she has transformed into a much more beautiful peacock-handled feather duster. I do not know whether this is a more traditional item that you would find the homes of the French aristocracy or if it just lent itself better to how they wanted to animate the character, but it worked well and I didn’t feel any real objections to the diversion from the original.

Everybody knows Mrs Potts, originally voiced by Angela Lansbury who iconically sang the main song Beauty and the Beast. There was some hope that Lansbury would return to this remake, either to voice Mrs Potts again or to at least sing again, however it is 2017 and Emma Thompson was cast to play this role. This was not a problem, though, as Thompson voiced the part very well and her singing voice is incredible, for this particular song at least.

As a main character who appears in the title, no review would be justified without a mention of The Beast, who is voiced and acted by the Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens.  The character is convincingly animated, although nothing less would be expected from Disney, and has been superbly choreographed along with Watson’s character; you just have to watch the iconic ballroom dance scene. The portrayal of The Beast in this reboot has been wonderfully put together, which really adds to the tension and the emotion around the character and the development of the connection between Beast and Belle; especially in the later scenes.

Overall, this is one to watch regardless of other reviews that cast a shadow of doubt on the production.  It is a piece of beautiful cinematography, CGI and effects, and composition of music and song that gives a level of depth that the original could not. A magnificent adaptation that won’t be viewed only the once.

A movie that is full of enchantment, emotion, humour and romance; it has everything that the original does, but the live-action makes everything more powerful.

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