Disney’s new live action adaptation of their 1991 animated movie has certainly set off a stream of demands and speculation about future live action remakes of Disney Classics, and with good reason. The future seems bright for adults that loved the Disney animated classics as children, but world like a little something more. And, if future movies are anything like this remake, it seems Disney has hit on another gold mine.
Let’s get into the meat of this movie, though. The story-line follows, pretty much scene for scene, the animated movie. The independent, young Belle, played by Emma Watson, wants more than the small town life she has been given. Her wishes of having a more exciting life are granted, accidentally, when her father gets lost on a misguided trip through the woods and rediscovers the hidden castle of an enchanted prince.
The prince, having been transformed into a hideous beast and imprisoned in the castle, takes Belle’s father(Kevin Kline) captive. Once Belle discovers what happened to her father she demands he be freed and in his place trades her own freedom away. And, as this is a Disney movie, the beautiful Belle learns to love the beast in spite of his hideous appearance and removes the curse, saving the servants and prince.
Over the course of the story we are introduced to several characters, including Gaston (Luke Evans), Lafou (Josh Gad), and the Beast (Dan Stevens). The casting for this movie had High points and low points.
I cannot praise Emma Watson’s performance enough. She has a beautiful singing voice and definitely made Belle come to life in this movie. Her inquisitiveness, intelligence and full range of emotions were spot on. Having seen this movie I could not honestly choose another actress to replace her. Dan Stevens played an excellent counter to her as the beast, but honestly the anger and rage that I would associate with a cursed and imprisoned prince just didn’t seem to be there.
Evans’ characterization of Gaston was decent enough, but somehow even more cartoonish than the cartoon. Josh Gad performed brilliantly as Lafou, but the character seemed to have been written as more of a fanboy than the boot licker he was in the animated movie. Belle’s father, was portrayed well by Kline, but again the character seemed to have been written more as a sad, widowed, hermit than an overly eccentric inventor.
Even with all the unnecessary changes to the characters and over-acting on the part of Evans, the cast pulled the story off brilliantly. Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellan rounded it out playing the parts of Lumiere and Cogsworth (respectively) and they did so with the excellence one would expect from these accomplished actors.
Visually the movie is stunning, just as would be expected from any Disney movie. Belle’s town definitely brings a small French town to life, right down to the bustling market and Gaston’s hunting lodge. But the real magic of the scenery takes place in the Beast’s castle. The grounds surrounding the castle and the forest around them absolutely bring the creepy, cursed land feeling home every time you see them. The castle itself, crumbling slowly as the time passes is amazing.
The CGI of the characters in the castle is excellent. The talking, clock, and candlestick truly come to life on the big screen, while the tea set left a little something to be desired. The Beast himself was truly a work of digital art appearing, at once, fantastical and realistic.
The musical score and singing was pretty well spot on with the animated film. The classics from the animated film like Belle, Be our Guest, The Mob Song and Beauty and the Beast were all included in the film and only varied slightly from their originals. While other songs were included in this movie’s score as there were changes to other songs such as Gaston. The cast’s ability to put new voices to the songs was also excellent and at times, honestly, surprising.
Overall this movie was a spectacular journey back into my own childhood and an interesting way to bring it into my adulthood and share it with my family. My wife and I loved this movie as much as our child and I can only assume that, like most Disney movies, it will be played more than once in our home in the future. I absolutely recommend this movie for a family night out or even a date night for you and your wife.
I would say this is appropriate for most ages although if your child is especially sensitive to creepy scenes or violence, this may need to wait a bit. I will say that any child above 3 should thoroughly enjoy this movie and be fine to watch it. Do yourself a favor and watch this!
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