Review: Beauty and the Beast

A ‘tale as old as time’, Beauty and the Beast is the latest in a string of live-action adaptations of Disney classics. A remake of the 1991 animated film, Beauty and the Beast tells the story of Belle (Emma Watson), a woman held captive in a castle by a prince disguised as a hideous beast (Dan Stevens). Shattering multiple box office records, the film opened on March 17th to a massive $357 million worldwide.

If there’s one thing to write home about, it is the nostalgic elements of Beauty and the Beast, which, for the most part, are essentially identical to the original. These elements add an extra level of depth, with certain story arcs expanded upon and further explained, such as the whereabouts of Belle’s mother.

Perhaps the most intriguing of these is the film-makers’ choice to include more about the enchantress responsible for the Beast’s transformation, Agathe. Even this is lacking somewhat, leaving audience members with more questions than ever: Why did the enchantress curse the prince in the first place? Why did she stay in the village? Does she exist solely to go around cursing people who do bad things?

While watching Beauty and the Beast, I found it hard to shake the feeling that it was only enjoyable because of its profuse similarities to the original.

The CGI, whilst stunning in parts, was sloppy at best. The Beast, in particular, suffered immensely as a result. He wasn’t especially convincing and lacked the fluidity of expression that the animated film provided. In creating a live-action film, Disney has achieved the paradoxical effect of making the film less realistic than the animated counterpart. The same is true for the Beast’s household servants, particularly Mrs Potts who, despite being voiced by the brilliant Emma Thompson (Harry Potter, Love Actually), was cringe-worthy and occasionally terrifying to watch.

The supporting cast truly is this film’s saving grace. Luke Evans gives the most energised performance of the film as the boisterous and boastful Gaston, alongside the equally hilarious Josh Gad as LeFou. Furthermore, the musical numbers are impressive for the most part. With new additions, such as the Beast’s ‘Evermore’, Beauty and the Beast captures the elaborate aesthetic of musical theatre. The standout song of the movie is ‘Gaston’, which features our two antagonists singing an upbeat barroom with exquisite choreography.

Beauty and the Beast is generally enjoyable, but nothing too special. Most of the characters lack the vibrancy and charm that make the original so worthwhile and the character design is flawed to the point of being distracting to watch. It is truly a film that is made only for fans of the original.

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