HOLLYWOOD—Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a classic; a film that so many of us born in the 80s and 90s recall fondly, as a rites of passage flick from our childhood. Who would have ever expected some 25 plus years later, filmmakers would turn that classic film into a live-action version?
This classic is helmed by “Dreamgirls” director Bill Condon who does justice to not irk fans of the classic. That is the thing about messing with a classic, you always run the risk of annoying the people who don’t grasp the concept of why a remake, reinterpretation or reimaging of a classic is needed. Well, some people never saw the 1991 classic, so here’s their opportunity in the present with newly improved technology to dazzle movie lovers.
I will admit Emma Watson is perfection in the role of Belle. She fits the role seamlessly and I can’t imagine another actress assuming the role to be honest. I however had qualms about Luke Evans taking on the role of Gaston; while he might fit the part; the actor is notoriously much older than Watson, so even if the thought of these two as a possible couple were possible, it was never believable in my opinion. And of course we can’t forget Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou, played with such charm and charisma by actor Josh Gad. Kevin Kline also appears taking on the role of Belle’s father, Maurice.
Beyond that, the rest of the characters in the movie are the voices of actors who portray items inside the Prince’s (Dan Stevens) castle. That is what I appreciate the most from director Condon; he didn’t sway too much from the classic, and because of that, anyone who grew up watching the original will vividly remember what made the movie so enjoyable nearly 25 years ago.
We have Lumiere (voice of Ewan McGregor), Maestro Cadenza (voice of Stanley Tucci), Cogsworth (voice of Ian McKellen), Mrs. Potts (voice of Emma Thompson), Plumette (voice of Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Madame de Garderobe (voice of Audra McDonald) and Chip (voice of Nathan Lane), all kooky characters in their own right, but each possessing a level of heart that the audience will instantly connect with. I will admit specific reservations I had about a live version; would it be possible to garner that same element of fantasy with real-life items that can talk, speak and move like the animated version? The answer here is yes, and it’s done in such a manner it doesn’t distract too much from the movie.
The narrative sticks to the classic, which follows Belle on her journey to locate her father after he goes missing, only to come face-to-face with a Beast, who holds her captive. The Beast, who has been cursed because of his lack of compassion, wrestles with his past and ability to love, which could break the curse and transform him and the rest of his servants back to their human form. Condon does deliver a bit of a backstory about the disappearance of Belle’s mother that was never explained in the original, and that brings a bit of levity to the movie if you ask me.
It’s the classic love tale people, and it’s enchanting and a delight to watch a modernized version that new audiences can enjoy. For those who have reservations about rather the one ‘frightening’ scene involving wolves is too much for the kids, I’d say don’t overthink it. It’s not like blood is gushing from the wolves mouths or the attack is so vicious it will leave one unnerved.
The one element that is quite important are those iconic songs; songs that you will find yourself humming the melodies and words to, as if no one else was around you. “Beauty and the Beast” is the perfect cup of tea for anyone looking for a film the entire family can enjoy, including the parents, and the kids.