Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Disney have converted their 1991 classic animation into a live-action, visual wonder. 


Since French author Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont wrote Beauty and the Beast, it has been made for TV and the cinema on numerous occasions, with slight differences. In 1961, the beast was a prince who turned into a werewolf each night. The 1987 TV series starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton and executively produced by Game of Thrones‘ George R. R. Martin was hit and miss.

But nothing beat the 1991 Disney animation, of which this new live-action remake is based upon. It was the first animation to ever be nominated for an Oscar best picture and won. No pressure then.

The trailer for this new film mirror imaged that of the old shot by shot. If you are hoping for that throughout the movie, then you’re in for a treat.

Beauty and the Beast follows in the footsteps of Cinderella (2015) and The Jungle Book (2016) as another classic animation that’s been re-worked in a modern-day way.

Bill Condon’s adaptation, starring Emma Watson (Harry Potter) as Belle and Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) as The Beast/The Prince is a visual wonder, but the film itself isn’t without minor flaws.

With the running time for Condon’s musical, romantic, fantasy  film being 45 minutes longer than the animated version, it was going to be interesting how they filled the extra space.

In some places it worked. The prologue at the start of the film helped audiences understand the origins of the curse in greater detail. A look into Belle’s life back in Paris added to her and her father’s story arc.

But in other places it didn’t, most notably the additional music. The extra songs composed by Alan Menken seemed a little unnecessary. The music from the 1991 hit made the film unique and captured audiences, there was little need for any more.

We were also left to admire Tobias Schliessler’s cinematography a little too long. The first act ultimately dragged out far more than one would like. Yes it’s a castle, but we don’t need to spend almost 45 minutes exploring it.

Saying that, the casting could not have been better picked.

Watson charms as the farm girl looking for a way out of her boring life in Villeneuve, and Stevens produces a stellar display as the Beast looking for love to break his dreadful curse.

Ewan McGregor is almost unrecognisable as Lumière but steals the show with his wit and determination. Sir Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson are also excellent as Cogsworth and Mrs Potts respectively.

Kevin Kline (Pink Panther) as Maurice is the typical father figure you’d expect him to be- caring, noble and overprotective. Luke Evans (The Hobbit) is a perfectly sinister Gaston, wishing for Belle’s hand in marriage.

Josh Gad’s LeFou has caused plenty of controversy in the build-up to the films release, but he is as flamboyant as one hopes him to be. The ‘Openly-Gay’ moment in the movie’s climatic scene shouldn’t really have sparked so much aggravation. Why can’t two guys have a dance together?

Also, the CGI of the famous talking furniture and crockery is again another example of just how far technology has come in the last few years. Go back a decade, and some would have said it would have been very tricky to convert this film into a live-action movie.

If only the film wasn’t as long then we would’ve been onto a winner. If grown adults were struggling towards the end, imagine the children who this film is most certainly aimed for trying to keep up.

(PG, 129 minutes)