Disney appear to be on a bit of a mission to remake a lot of their classic films; whether this is necessary is debatable, but I did enjoy this latest outing allowing me a bit of a return to my childhood.
It’s a tale as old as time, but if you need a reminder, Beauty & The Beast is the story of Belle (Emma Watson), a beautiful young woman with dreams beyond her small and small-minded village; and the Beast (Dan Stevens), a once handsome rich prince cursed to be a beast as a punishment for turning out a sorceress from his home. When Belle’s father (Kevin Kline) is taken prisoner by the Beast, Belle travels to take his place and the story moves from there.
Beauty & The Beast is one of my favourite Disney films, so there was something really lovely about seeing some of my favourite scenes really come to life. Between Bill Condon’s direction, Tobias Schliessler’s cinematography and Jacqueline Durran’s costume design, the film just glows on screen.
This is aided by some generally pretty solid performances. Watson is unlikely to win any awards for her singing or acting, but she’s pretty sweet as Belle. Stevens is unrecognisable for most of the film, but does well at walking the line between being beastly and also being fairly humorous. The stand-out performances for me were that of Luke Evans (as Gaston) and Josh Gad (as LeFou) who both seemed to be having a hoot, but were also really seemed to embody their characters in a really great way. I also loved seeing Audra McDonald (as Madame Garderobe) getting ample screentime.
Whilst I enjoyed the humour present in Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos’ script, I felt that a lot of the new additions were a bit unnecessary; I didn’t really feel the need to know about the Beast’s past in detail or about the death of Belle’s mother. Plus, with perhaps the exception of ‘Evermore’, a lot of the new songs felt unnecessary too (I was especially bothered that ‘Human Again’ was replaced with a ballad).
On the whole, however, this is a really sweet film for kids or those who are young at heart.