Films like this are why I go to the movies. Director Bill Condon and his crew have pulled off quite the feat. They’ve managed to maintain the look and feel of the animated classic, but they’ve added enough tweaks to make it something fresh and exciting. From the set design, to the special effects, to the cast, it’s a visual feast for the eyes. If you’ve had your doubts about the effects that the transition to live action would have on your beloved animated classic, fear not. It’s a masterful retelling. A new classic. This is one of the must see films of the year for children and adults alike.
If you’ve seen the original 1991 animated film, you know the story. This version doesn’t stray far from it, story-wise. The new songs that have been added are good, minus one. I wasn’t a big fan of the new song Beast sings when Belle leaves to help her father. Other then that hiccup, the music is fantastic. When any of the originals would start up, I couldn’t help but get a big grin on my face. If I had to pick favourites, I would say Be Our Guest and Gaston are the real crowd pleasers here. The cast is perfect. Emma Watson (Belle) and Dan Stevens (Beast) have great chemistry together. Emma is the quintessential Belle. Once she entered the screen, I couldn’t picture anyone else in the role. Dan brings the ferocity and warmth to the Beast you would expect. Luke Evans (Gaston) and Josh Gad (LeFou) are hilarious together. Luke absolutely nails Gaston, he’s a spitting image of the same confident, dumb, jerk you love to hate. The minor tweaks to characters are notably to Lefou and Maurice. Lefou isn’t as ridiculous as he was in the original. He is as in love with Gaston as ever, but he questions his loyalty to him. It’s a welcome change and gives the character some depth. Rounding out the cast is Kevin Kline as Belles father Maurice, who again, isn’t as ridiculous as the original character. He’s known as the crazy man in town but he’s not the clumsy fool as he was presented before. Again, a welcome change and I actually prefer it to the animated version. Ewen Mcgregor (Lumiere), Ian Mckellen (Cogsworth), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts) and Nathan Mack (Chip) are amazing playing their “knickknack ” counterparts. The spirit of their characters is maintained in the transition to live action. The rest of the cast does a great job but these were the standouts for me. The special effects, sets, and costumes are top notch. Everything screams quality. What else would you expect from Disney?
For a live action remake, it does more things right than wrong. It captures the spirit and feel of the original but makes enough changes to keep things interesting. It takes some risk with its characters but I think they pulled it off. It’s a film that has to be experienced in theatres, no question. If you can splurge, pay the extra for 3D. I usually don’t recommend 3D (most of it is terrible) but Beauty & The Beast delivers on that and more. It’s pure escapism. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy. – NVJ