Beauty And The Beast (2017) Review:
Magic Brought To Life
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the latest animated classic to get the live action treatment. While some might see it as a soulless cash in on nostalgia, others will revel in the chance to see a new spin on the tale as old as time. Personally, I’m not offended by Disney’s live action remakes. I see them as cinematic stage plays, giving a story I once knew, new life.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ is not the riskiest of remakes. Much of the film is a loving recreation of its source material. That love can be overbearing at times, as you sit in the theatre wondering what you’re getting that you couldn’t with the original picture. The places where it does make changes are a welcome break from its slavish adaptation, that is at best, a touching reminder of what you once knew, and at worst, an embarrassing imitation.
The most consistent part of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, is how stunning it is to look at. Particularly the Beast’s enchanted castle, and all its inhabitants. The characters lose their animated charm, but what they gain is an impressive amount of heart. When the objects talk of the lives they led before they became furniture, it rings truer coming from what looks like a candlestick, than a cartoon.
The translation isn’t always effective. Most notably in the part of Gaston, played by Luke Evans, whose larger than life character is underserved by Evans’ humanity. That’s not the fault of Evans, it’s just, there’s no one quite like Gaston. Still, humanity is the key to this adaptation, as the film adds a touching connection to the characters that dare I say improved upon the original.
Kevin Kline’s role as Belle’s father Maurice is the chief example of this. A man who seemed insane even before his ramblings of a monstrous beast. Under Kline’s care, he became a genuine character. One with heart, quirks, and identity. If only the same could be said for the depiction of Lefou.
Played by Josh Gad, Lefou is Disney’s first depiction of an openly gay character in a major motion picture. Josh Gad is charming as Gaston’s most loyal friend, and sidekick. He makes you laugh, and when seen in live action, the sheer abuse he takes has a certain dark humour to it. Unfortunately, his over the top performance is a faithful one, but considering the character’s newly revealed identity, can be uncomfortable, bordering on stereotype at times.
Of course, the main attractions are the Beauty, played by Harry Potter’s Emma Watson, and the Beast, played by Legion’s Dan Stevens. Watson carries the frustration of her character’s plight beautifully and gives Belle an admirable strength. Stevens gives the Beast the one thing he’d been missing all along. A character to care about. The remake does one thing remarkably well and gives the somewhat questionable romance an air of legitimacy.
Was ‘Beauty and the Beast’ worth the price of admission? I’m inclined to say yes. It’ll take you back to how you felt the first time you watched it, and pepper in a few new things to keep it feeling fresh. Watching Belle talk to her horse was charming in a cartoon, but laughable in this version. Still, gaffes like that are minor and don’t take away from the overall joy of watching magic come to life.
Rating: Big Screen Watch