The live-action retelling of Disney classic Beauty and the Beast was under serious pressure to be good because the original meant a lot to my family growing up. Sure, we liked The Jungle Book and Cinderella but Beauty and the Beast is the first of the live-action reboots that I desperately wanted/needed to be good – and I thankfully wasn’t let down.
I’m sure we all know the story, but here’s a quick recap for the uninitiated (where have you been?) – Emma Watson stars as Belle, a young girl who is bored with her life in a small French village. One day, her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) gets lost in the woods and comes across a castle which has been cursed – the master has been turned into The Beast (Dan Stevens) and the other inhabitants are now household objects. She goes to the castle to save her father and takes his place so he can go free. The objects – mainly Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth (Ian McKellen) and Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) – try to make them fall in love so the curse will be broken.
I love Disney and I love musicals so as soon as Watson came onto the screen and started singing as Belle, I was hooked and fully onboard. It is cheesy as hell but that’s exactly how I like my musicals. I hadn’t seen Beauty in years and I forgot how many great songs there are and I came out afterwards humming them to myself. Four new tracks were created to make it more of a musical and these aren’t as strong as the originals and didn’t really stick in my mind.
Watson can sing well and she was perfectly cast appearance-wise. I don’t rate her acting abilities but the part didn’t exactly require a huge range. In fact, this can be said for all the cast – Luke Evans and Josh Gad looked like Gaston and Le Fou so much, McKellen and Thompson sounded exactly what I expected Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts to sound like and they all sang wonderfully, with Audra McDonald completely stealing everyone’s thunder as Madame Garderobe.
This is very loyal to the original movie, just with some extra additions – for example, a harpsichord named Cadenza (voiced by Stanley Tucci) is new, the ending is ever so slightly changed to involve the witch who cursed the castle, The Beast is given more emotional depth and Belle is made more feisty and less of a damsel in distress. The reports of Le Fou being gay have been seriously exaggerated – it’s very subtle and you get a whiff of homosexual vibes from him but it would probably just go over most people’s heads.
The setting, costumes, make-up etc etc are gorgeous and the CGI is incredible. I was completely charmed by it. It was just want I wanted and considering how high my expectations were, the fact I’m not disappointed means a lot.
In cinemas Friday 17th March