Disney continues its sensational winning streak with this live-action version of arguably their greatest 2D animation – and it’s simply a beautiful production.
Just like with their Star Wars and Marvel products, their own films based on their classic animations – after Alice, Cinderella and last year’s The Jungle Book – just seem to get better and better, and this is breathtakingly enchanting from start to finish.
Ex-Harry Potter starlet Emma Watson portrays the role of the educated only child of widower Maurice (A Fish Called Wanda’s Kevin Kline), Belle, a young girl trying to find herself in the world despite the confines of a stereotypical French working-class village.
But when her father inadvertently steals property on a long-forgotten estate and is taken prisoner by the beast that inhabits it, she takes the place of her ailing father and becomes imprisoned herself.
Little does she know that the angry Beast (The Guest’s Dan Stevens) was once a prince, and he, along with servants, who have been transformed into household objects – including candelabra Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), mantel clock Cogsworth (Sir Ian McKellen) and teapot Mrs Potts (Emma Thompson) – were once part of a thriving castle.
But an enchantress put a spell on the soulless prince (and everyone around him) to teach him a lesson – and now he must earn the love of someone to break the curse before the last petal on an enchanted rose falls.
After Beast saves Belle from a pack of wolves when she escapes – and he gets injured in the process – they soon begin to gain a mutual respect for each other, and a fondness slowly blooms, before Belle’s egotistical suitor Gaston (Fast and Furious 6’s Luke Evans) gets wind of the situation and takes matters into his own hands by declaring Beast is a threat to the village folk.
While The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn director Bill Condon won’t win awards for trying anything too adventurous by playing it fairly ‘safe’ and sticking extremely closely to the animation plotting, everything is done with that sensational Disney gloss that can’t help but draw you into Belle and Beast’s world.
The casting is fantastic – particularly Josh Gad’s (Frozen) LeFou (what was all that furore with the ‘gay’ scene all about? Blink and you’ll miss it!) – set designs bordering on perfect, and the musical numbers, particularly ‘Be Our Guest’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – which are worth the 3D admission alone – spine-tinglingly stunning.
This is one time where staying close to the source material and a tried-and-tested formula really pays off – and its timeless appeal will keep movie-goers and families satisfied for weeks to come.
Gavin Miller[youtube id=”e3Nl_TCQXuw” width=”600″ height=”350″]
Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan Mcgregor, Emma Thompson, Ian Mckellen, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nathan Mack, Hattie Morahan, Ray Fearon, Haydn Gwynne & Audra Mcdonald
Running Time: 2 Hr 9 Mins
Director: Bill Condon
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