Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Josh Gad, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson.
Disney launched the first of its batch of live action remakes in recent years with the fantastic Cinderella & Jungle Book. With Beauty & The Beast, can The House Of Mouse pull it out the bag again?
Deep in the forests of rural France, an enchanted castle who’s inhabitants are subject to a terrible curse lies dormant and unseen to the world, until the arrival of strangers from a nearby village setting into motion an unlikely love story.
You need some pretty big cajones to tackle a remake of a film like Beauty & The Beast, it is fervently adored by its fan base who will be expecting nothing but the best from this film, I am very happy to say that is exactly what they will get. Bill Condon has delivered a lovingly realised ode to the animated original and then some. It is utterly gorgeous to look at, particularly in 3D IMAX, an outstanding cast and the centrepiece, those songs we know so well and some new ones also, wonderfully performed by the cast who really do them justice.
Disney has assembled quite the formidable cast for Beauty & The Beast, they are fantastic. Emma Watson brings a charm and elegance to Belle, a role that she was seemingly born to play, she makes it so her own along with a beautiful singing voice that does the part justice. The same can be said for her co-lead Dan Stephens who despite the heavy use of CGI to bring the beast to life, gives the character a sense of humanity and vulnerability, not an easy task to convey without a recognisable physical presence, he carries it off with aplomb. The partnership of Luke Evans & Josh Gad’s Gaston & LeFou is inspired, the two gel brilliantly. Evans über masculine caveman chews the scenery with absolute glee also displaying an impressive vocal range, one of the strongest in the whole film to boot. Gad’s LeFou, gathering all sorts of ridiculous tabloid level commentary prior to the film’s release is a highlight of the film. His servile adoration of his bestie Gaston is realised with some playfully delivered moments & lines, very much self-aware. The furore surrounding the characters sexuality, as much of a non-issue as it is, is played ambiguously for the most part, more a knowing wink than anything. Gad being a veteran musical actor after his stint in Book Of Mormon on Broadway unsurprisingly slays his vocal delivery throughout. Some stellar support is added by the likes of Ewan McGregor, Sir Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson, Kevin Kline, it really is a breathtaking ensemble cast, perfectly casted I might add.
It also has to be said of Beauty & The Beast, it’s frickin beautiful to look at, like actually jaw dropping at times. The gothic architecture and styling of the castle, all dark and brooding, boldly contrasted by the bright & ornate living antiques, for cinephiles out there, there is even a nod to Jean Cocteau’s surreal 1946 film La Belle et la Bête in the castles decor. The song sequences in particular are impressive. From a stand point of spectacle ‘Be Our Guest’ & ‘Beauty & The Beast’ really do stand out as proper visual feasts. From a stand point of staging and choreography, ‘Gaston’ & ‘Kill The Beast’ feel straight out of Broadway, very slick, very stylish and polished. This is another film that I would wholeheartedly suggest you experience in 3D IMAX, I don’t say it of many films but Beauty & The Beast is a true showcase of the technology, beautiful, immersive and captivating from start to finish.
Fans of the original animated film can breathe a sigh of relief, they pulled it off again. Beauty & The Beast is an absolute joy, to see something so loved and so ingrained in modern culture treated with such care and attention is heartening for Disneys future live action remake output.