Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson
In the latest live-action remake of a Walt Disney classic, Bill Condon takes on the challenge of Beauty and the Beast. In a little town somewhere in France, book-lover Belle lives with her inventor father. When she is trapped in a castle by a hideous Beast, she will come to learn that beauty is found on the inside. But will she be able to fall in love with her captor and break the curse upon them before time runs out?
I don’t know how to write this review without simply fangirling the whole way down the page – but let’s give it a go. Beauty and the Beast is tied first as my favourite Disney film of all time (joint top with none other than the Lion King of course), and so I have been anticipating this film since the first whispered rumours that this could be happening. Throw in the fact that my all-time favourite actress and human being, Emma Watson was playing the titular character was the absolute icing on the cake.
Obviously being such a fan of the film, I did have my reservations. Was it going to live up to my expectations? I’ve never heard Emma Watson sing, can Emma Watson sing? What if I don’t like it? Maybe I shouldn’t go, then I’ll never know if it’s bad…
Ok, be quiet pre-Beauty me, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
This film blew me away with it’s sheer magicality. Faithful to the original story, they could be played side by side and match perfectly, the remake stays true to the original. Only slightly veering off in places to include new musical numbers such as the Beast’s ‘Evermore’ and ‘How Does a Moment Last Forever’, and also delving deeper into the backstory of Belle’s mother. Additions that we never knew we needed.
When Emma was cast as Belle I wept for joy. She was everything I could envision in Belle’s character; passionate, headstrong and with an understated beauty. Her portrayal of Belle was perfect, with the perfect mixture of innocence and curiosity, whilst still maintaining that strong-willed personality we love and know. Her vocals aren’t the strongest of the cast, but that was to be expected, and she manages to a pure and longing quality through her performances.
Dan Stevens works wonders with the Beast. Not an easy task I can imagine, for a lot of the time he would have been dressed in a skin tight grey lycra suit with black dots all over him. His transformation from the hot-headed, stubborn and selfish Beast, delving into his buried sadness through the loss of his mother, and then realising that he can love somebody is a beautiful journey. His vocals we so much better than I was anticipating, with a powerhouse number in ‘Evermore’ near the end, which he delivers with an absolute emotional punch.
The iconic scene of the film is the titular number, when Belle and Beast dress in all their finery and take a spin around the ballroom. This scene was as breathtaking as its predecessor. With Emma Thompson’s Mrs Potts providing her rendition, ‘Tale as old as time…’, our lovers waltz with grace, eyes never leaving each other, capturing the moment the two realised the depth of their feelings. My heart was sat permanently in my throat throughout, tears threatening to leak from the corners of my eyes.
Luke Evans and Josh Gad as the incomparable dynamic-duo of Gaston and LeFou had me in stitches. Whether it was Gaston’s complete and utter obliviousness to anything but himself, or LeFou’s witty one liners as he subtly attempts to make his (clearly obvious) feelings for the blockheaded hunter clear. The controversy of ‘Disney’s first gay character’ was completely blown out of proportion. Whilst it was obvious that LeFou had some sort of romantic inclination towards Gaston, it wasn’t shoved in the audience’s face, and it wasn’t the only thing that defined his character. The fact that LeFou was able to redeem himself as one of the good guys at the end, realising that he was blindly following a distasteful and villainous brute who couldn’t care less about anything other than himself.
The ‘Gaston’ number was never one of my favourites in the original, I just found it completely and utterly scoffable at how people can pander to such a shallow human being, but I have to admit I found myself wanting to jump up on the nearest table and start slapping my knees and jumping up and down.
The ensemble cast of the enchanted castle dwellers were everything I could ever ask for; Lumiere, Cogsworth, Plumette, Mrs Potts, Chip, Madame de Garderobe and Monsieur D’Arque. The animation work is just exquisite. I was worried initially about how they were going to live up to the ‘Be Our Guest’ scene from the original. What a party scene that was. I hardly knew where to look in places, it had everything; spinning plates, dancing feather dusters with Lumiere strutting his stuff. God bless Ewan McGregor for being able to deliver that song with such gusto. ‘Days in the Sun’ gave me absolute chills. When we come to understand how guilty they all feel for their part in the Prince’s transformation, but the pain they feel to know they may forever be trapped under this spell.
This film completely crushed my expectations. It had all the heart and soul of the original, but with a few added twists and turns to the plot that only added even more magic to a beloved tale. It had me weeping from the word go, grinning beyond belief and heart pumping in all the right places. If this is the standard of all of Disney’s upcoming live-action remakes then I can’t wait. Just make sure you don’t botch The Lion King.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and stream the soundtrack for the 1290483242th time.
Beauty and the Beast is in cinemas now.