I’m not a huge fan or musicals to be honest, but every now and then I find myself to be entertained by some of them.
That being said when I was a child I enjoyed a few Disney animation classics and Beauty & the Beast is definitely one of them. During the hype train I found myself anticipating the film the more I heard about it. Emma Watson’s casting as Belle definitely brought my attention to the film. As did the casting Ewan McGergor, Sir Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci, and Emma Thompson. The set photos and promotional images also grabbed my attention too.
I’m happy to report that it’s a serviceable adaptation of the animated movie. Most of the cast delivers with the exception of Luke Evans. He definitely looks like he’s having fun in the role as Gaston, but he is so cartoonishly two-dimensional and so over the top. I just could not take him seriously every time he showed up on screen. Aside from him everyone does a great job. Emma Watson brings it, and her singing isn’t too bad either. Stand out for me was Ewan McGergor as Lumiere. He brought a lot of swagger and personality to the role. His banter and exchange with Ian McKellen’s Cogsworth brings a lot of humor in their relationship. I also really enjoyed Dan Steven’s performance as the Beast.
Singing in the beginning of the film is a little bit of a turn-off. Not because the actors couldn’t sing, but it’s one number after another, and some of the verses were kind of pointless as well. But once the plot gets going it becomes more tolerable. In the middle near to the end, the film know when to pick it’s moments to showcase a number. Like I said I’m not the biggest fan of musicals, but the annoyance is only temporary. Some of the actors are kinda there without much to do, despite some amusing moments, like Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
The romance is solid. It never felt too over the top, and the chemistry for the most part was there. I believe making people laugh and showcasing romance is something hard to convey for any movie. Beauty & the Beast does a commendable job at it, however while I never felt like Belle and Beast’s relationship felt force, I wish that a little more was given to them. The film does showcase their bonding, but most of it are montages. Everything set up for their romance was just almost, almost executed with perfection. I also wish I got to see more out of Dan Steven’s Beast as well. The film hits in high gears once the film introduces him.
Special effects and production design are first rate. Yes there are moments where you can tell it’s CGI, but it’s not that noticeable that it’s going to distract you. Costumes are fabulous too look at and the actors are well lit. Director Bill Condon does an excellent job showcasing the fantasy land, it’s visually pleasing and enriching. The ball-room dance sequence with Beast and Belle is done with justice too.
At times Beauty & the Beast can feel cluttered and overproduced eye-candy, but the film is a very faithful adaptation of the animated film. Aside from a little backstory from Belle and the gay character LeFou played by Josh Gad(which is handled well to be honest), it really doesn’t bring a lot new to the table. Which is fine for some, cause why fix what isn’t broken, but that works for and against the film.
Among other live adaptations, I’d rank this below or evenly with Branagh’s Cinderella, but definitely much more entertaining than Maleficent or the Alice in Wonderland films. Odd that both Cinderella and Beauty & the Beast are basic retellings that work for the most part, but Maleficent and Alice in Wonderland try to be new re-imaginings that just crumble. Perhaps Little Mermaid or Mulan might find the striking balance of both.