Thursday, 28 December 2017

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2017) - review

As Disney proceed at full speed into remaking every animated they've ever made into live-action, earlier this year we were treated to the much anticipated re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast, directed by Dreamgirls' Bill Condon. Giving you everything you've come to expect from from these big budget remakes, the production is lavish, the celebrities numerous, and the nostalgia thick like treacle (well, for those that were nostalgic to begin with).

Unlike other live-action versions of Disney films, Beauty and the Beast is pretty much a straight up remake of the original 1991 animation, except 45 minutes longer and with three extra songs. The film looks so much like the original, just a bit more baroque, like you are in some very indulgent 18th century French palace. The songs are the same, just a little longer, and even the costumes repeat the same designs of the original, so if you wanted something truly akin to the 1991 version, you're in luck.

Emma Watson gives a convincing dignity to the character of Belle. Really, years of book reading, especially the quoted A Midsummer's Night Dream (where a woman falls in love with a beast), would have more than prepared her to learn to listen to peoples stories. And yes, I think I'd fall in love with anyone who gifted me an entire library too. Dan Stevens is good as the Beast, and I particularly enjoyed his devilish grin and fore-shadowing make-up at the beginning of the film. My only beef with Dan Stevens being in this film is his description of him being a "young" prince. We love Stevens at His and Hers, but maybe it might of been interesting to see the prince played by a younger actor, if only at the beginning, to really highlight the prince's naivety and foolishness that he was punished for.

The actors playing the assorted household items are what bolster this film. Ewan McGregor as the candelabra Lumière provides the high energy and vocal abilities that this film need, as Stevens' and especially Watson's vocal's are noticeably weaker in comparison. While I was maybe hoping for a slightly more realistic retelling of this story, the addition of a kick-boxing harpsichord that spits its keys out at its enemies is an enjoyable sight.

While Disney have had some trouble writing interesting bad guys in their remakes (Maleficent being a prime example), Beauty and the Beast really could have seized the opportunity to tell the story of its enchantress, the woman who puts the curse of the prince. Her story is only told in tantalising titbits, and the film ends on a cliched and swift change of heart. When the last petal of the magical rose drops, the beast dies and all the cutlery become inanimate. Its only when Belle professes her love for the beast that she changes her mind and brings them all back to life. Considering this is one of the changes they made from the original animation, it would of been nice to have an explanation of the enchantresses reasoning for going back on her spell. Really, this film should of been told from her perspective, and have been her life lesson.

There is nothing essentially new about Condon's version, although it is a wonderfully realised world, much like 2015's lavish interpretation of Cinderella, and the costumes and set designs are worth the watch themselves. However, there is not enough difference here, apart from the novelty of it being live-action, to provide anything other than nostalgia for fans of the original.



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