Beauty and the Beast

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Beauty and the Beast

This live-action spin on the classic Disney animation, starring Emma Watson, is lively and modern – but also honours the love for the original film

The virtue of courage is high up on the list of Disney princess must-haves (just below kindness, beauty and a strapping prince in tight trousers). And three cheers for director Bill Condon and star Emma Watson for having the courage to make a live-action musical adaptation of the adored 1991 animation with 2017 gender politics and a diverse cast. Not only is Belle the most feminist Disney princess ever, 'Beauty and the Beast' also features the first (and second) ever interracial kiss in a live-action Disney movie and the first openly gay character in a Disney movie fullstop. And it's all done with a lovely feeling of integrity too.

This is a lavish pull-out-all-the-stops musical. Watson brings sincerity to the role of Belle, the only bookworm in the village in eighteenth-century France. (Her singing isn’t bad either). Luke Evans is hilarious as her sexist meathead suitor Gaston, whose charming chat-up lines include: ‘Do you know what happens to spinsters in the village when their fathers die? They beg for scraps.’ Josh Gad (Olaf the snowman in ‘Frozen’) is his adoring sidekick Le Fou. The pair’s get-a-room bromance is a highlight.

Belle’s inventor dad (Kevin Kline) is on his way to market when he takes a wrong turn and finds himself locked in the gothic castle belonging to Beast (Dan Stevens from ‘Downton’, hiding behind a furry face). Of course, the Beast is actually a dashing prince, transformed by a kind witch as punishment for his cold-heartedness. Only true love – as Céline Dion must surely have once sung – can set him free. You know the rest.

This funny and drop dead gorgeous ‘Beauty and the Beast’ stands on the shoulders of a giant – the original animation. It’s got the same talking appliances, performed here by an all-star cast: Ewan McGregor is Lumiere the French candlestick; Ian McKellen is pompous clock Cogsworth; Emma Thompson does her best cockney as Mrs Potts. And the sheer razzle-dazzle spectacle is totally old-school, with dancing napkins instead of chorus girls and everyone bursting sumptuously into song at every available opportunity.

If you want to pick holes, the Beast is a bit of drip. And while Belle is a young woman in charge of her destiny, it’s not totally clear what role there is for her – beyond wifey for lifey – after her happy ending. Did the world need another ‘Beauty and the Beast’? Maybe not, but this one is still a keeper.

By: Cath Clarke

Posted:

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday March 17 2017
Duration: 129 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Bill Condon
Screenwriter: Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos
Cast: Luke Evans
Ewan McGregor
Emma Watson
Dan Stevens

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LiveReviews|26
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GeorgeX
Tastemaker

The absolute classic Disney animation film Beauty and the Beast, brought back in the big screen this time as a film with actors. Emma Watson does deliver excellently the role of the Beauty and she is slowly but steadily being moving to the first class new actors. A beautiful film for a romantic night out with music songs from the original film.

Violet M
Tastemaker

The animated classic, Beauty and the Beast, was my absolute favorite growing up. As a child, I was Belle - brown hair, brown eyes, wanting to escape the small ‘provincial town’ with a love of books. When the casting choices came out, I actually thought, well done - Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, that is perfect! Not really realizing that the live-action version would also be a musical. 


Out of five, this film gets a 2.5 unfortunately. The CGI and animated characters like Lumiere and [clock] were excellent, the sets and costumes absolutely beautiful. Gaston and Le Fou were really fun to watch, surprisingly decent singers and overall, enjoyable. Le Fou absolutely stole the show, he was my favorite. 


Let me start with, I love Emma Watson. I do. She’s an awesome, feminist, gonna fight-for-equality any day and I would stand with that lady any day. As a singer… yeah. Okay, not her strong suit. And as this film is a musical, I have to admit, it annoyed me. Surely, they could’ve found an actress who sang… better? So many songs were altered to lower notes that she could hit. The songs weren’t powerful or emotional enough - they didn’t pack a big enough pow. Dan Stevens, equally, is not the best singer. You could hear the auto-tune from his numbers, and that was just.. disappointing. 


Blame it on the CGI, but I did not feel the love at all between Stevens and Watson. There was no chemistry, and maybe it was because the Beast was an animated.. thing. 


Also - 'small provincial town' where everyone has an English accent? What?

John C
tastemaker

This is an outstandingly good young kids film.It has great songs, great performances & is a really classy product.Some of you may think- why bother isn't it exactly the same as the cartoon - well it is really but better.

If you haven't got a young child to take - just borrow one. If you can't manage that, don't feel embarrassed you can still enjoy it without a child.  

Tara P
Tastemaker

The live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast had a lot riding on its shoulders. The favourite film of many a millennial, the original was the first animated feature to be nominated for a best picture Oscar and received commercial accolades across the board. Overall, the remake lives up to expectations. It in no way surpasses the original, but it doesn't embarrass it either. It's a beautiful, fun romp with a strong female lead and amusing supporting characters. The strength of the songs is allowed to shine through, and it truly feels like a musical on film rather than a film with a few songs. Emma Watson is likeable as Belle, combining strength and intelligence with kindness, although it's a shame they felt the need to edit her singing voice so much. Dan Stevens is at times a tad wet, but the Beast's extended back story is a welcome addition. Gaston (Luke Evans) and Le Fou (Josh Gad) are the real stars of the show here, providing most of the film's menace and comedy. Admittedly, there's little originality - you could say there's nothing there that wasn't there before. However, when there's beauty, plot and a few rousing chorus numbers, why would you complain?

Alexandra L
Tastemaker

Ever since the first trailer dropped for ‘Beauty and the Beast’, I’ve known that Emma Watson was not my Belle. I have nothing against her – as a role model I think she’s pretty awesome – but the trailer did her no favours and, in less than three minutes, it convinced me that she was going to a decidedly too sniffy for this role and that this was not a version of the classic fairy-tale that I needed to see.


Well, after several weeks of hearing how fabulous it is, I finally caved and trotted off to the cinema to see if in fact I was wrong…and I was. I was wrong about Emma and I hold my hands up to that – but I wasn’t wrong about this being an interpretation of the film that I didn’t need to see.


Ambitious but flawed overall, the opening scenes are brilliant – I loved the back story to the prince and Dan Stevens set himself up perfectly as a spoilt and cruel young man with no care for anyone less attractive or affluent than himself. Stevens was great throughout the film bringing a heart to Beast that moved me even though I knew every moment that was coming. ‘Provincial Life’ was gorgeously realised with Watson demonstrating a more-than-capable pair of pipes and a winning streak of humourous and empathetic steel that made me unexpectedly and unashamedly warm to her.


Kevin Kline was perfectly decent as Maurice but then he’s an excellent actor so you’d expect nothing less. I didn’t think the additional back story around Belle’s mother added anything to the storyline – it would have been no less sad if she’d died in childbirth as opposed to how she did actually perish and although it served to show Belle’s frame of mind towards the Beast when it was shown, the film would have carried on perfectly well had this not been added.


The problems for me started when Belle found herself captive in the castle. None of the new songs added anything that the original animation had been lacking and one of the film’s biggest set pieces ‘be Our Guest’ was so hideously overblown and soulless, it was as though the crew had been pumped full of sugar then let loose on their computers without remembering that this is a song set in a castle supposedly and not in the digital ether.


As Lumiere, Ewan MacGregor was nowhere near as entertaining as his animated counterpart and as Cogsworth, Ian McKellan was absolutely – and criminally – wasted with what seemed like barely a dozen lines to say in the whole movie. Emma Thompson (normally the most reliable and fabulous of actresses) was desperately trying to be Angela Lansbury which only served to remind me how wonderful Angela Lansbury is and how wincingly painful this imitation was. She can’t be blamed for the animation but that too was definitely lacking in charm and I wish she’d just been allowed to be herself. Stanley Tucci was wonderful but he could read the shipping forecast and I’d love him and Audra McDonald’s Broadway credentials shone through with her fantastic turn as the operatic wardrobe.


As square jawed and pants bulging Gaston, Luke Evans was the best thing in the whole movie. Looking like he was having the time of his life, he relished – and owned – every single moment of screen time as he chewed up and expectorated the scenery. Josh Gad was great as Lefou but nowhere near as rainbow-flag-flying camp as reviews had led me to believe despite the woman in front of me who kept pumping the air with her fists and proclaiming 'Yes!' everytime he uttered a single word.


Visually it was glorious and the costumes, hair & make-up were all stunning…shotgun on Belle’s final dress if it ever goes on sale. I’m glad I went to see it as now I can talk about it with authority as opposed to apprehension but I’m afraid the best that can be said about it was that it was fine. It was ok. It didn’t offend me…it did make me want to go home and watch the original animation though which can’t have been what Bill Condon (a musical director of exceptional talent if you’ve ever seen ‘Chicago’) was aiming for.

OnlymeElena
tastemaker

Emma Watson or Emma Stone? Beauty and The Beast or La La Land? Both Emma(s) are absolutely incredible young actresses. But, oh man, no doubt it is Beauty and The Beast by far! It's current, funny, romantic, well played, captivated. It has a modern twist and it takes animation to another level. 5 starts without a doubt!

charlotte_sometimes
tastemaker

A beautiful and immensely charming retelling of the 1991 animation. The notion of leaving the cinema screen without being enchanted seems an improbable one. Few films are this well staged, stylised and orchestrated. The cast all bring their characters to life, even if Luke Evans as Gaston makes the prospect of being Madame Gaston alarmingly appealing...

Lizzie W
Tastemaker

A truly magical film with stunning sets, beautiful costumes and some surprisingly good acting from EW along with the rest of the stellar cast! All the old classics were sung - unfortunately Emma Thompson killed Tale As Old As Time but hey! The story goes in to a little more detail on Belle's past which was actually just a little ridiculous but overall a charming adaption,

Sara A
tastemaker

The film was fairly true to the original, a few minor adaptations here and there. I had read a lot about how different this version is to the original, in particular, Emma Watson’s insistence on making Belle an inventor so that it had enough of a feminist slant for her to act in. How this was the first Disney film to have an openly gay character (I must have missed the part where the character actually said he was gay but he was certainly camp). True, I suppose this is progress for Disney but personally I’m a little disappointed that they had the opportunity to really bring some outdated ideals into the present and they didn’t do enough. However, for a die-hard Disney fan perhaps you want it to stay true to the original. The cinematography was quite beautiful. The singing was surprisingly good although none of the songs stayed in my head afterwards. I would say it suffered from being longer than it needed to be. On the whole this was a very watchable and attractively styled film, if somewhat forgettable.

Sonia C

Just loved it- sat there with a massive smile on my face right from the opening scene although a few tears were shed too in some of the more touching moments. Sumptuous, glorious technicolor & the special effects were incredible too. Loved the campness which added so much humour. I thought Disney couldn't improve on the original animated film but this is a worthy successor. The musical numbers are exuberant & performed with glee. Pure frothy perfection & proud of a predominantly British iconic cast.

Marco D
tastemaker

INCREDIBLE AND BEAUTIFUL!!

Where do I start with such an exquisite film? I always ask myself, how can Disney possibly turn this true classic into a real life film? They always do it and it looks unbelievably realistic. I am completely blown away by the immense detail to the animation of the characters and to the beast himself.

We don't just get the same old classical story playing through, we get so much more than that. We get emotion, strength, power, love, and so much more.

We are introduced to such grace and elegance throughout the film.

We also find out why the beast was such a horrible man in the beginning. The explicit detail to the story really had me transfixed into this fairytale. We find out a bit about Belle's mother, why that role was missing and why it was so important to Belle's future. This was never mentioned in the original classic film in 1991. This is a huge bonus to the story and very touching.

The scenery of the streets and the homes of the village looked perfectly created. Even the woods and the Beast's castle felt immaculately executed. I couldn't think of anything more to add to make this film a perfect success.

I felt the heartbreak and the emotion of every scene, I felt like I was part of this magical, heart-warming experience of Beauty and the Beast. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen the entire time.

Probably out of everything in the film, I was so content and astounded with the transformation of the anthropomorphic household objects.

One thing I didn't know was that the Enchantress's spell also wiped the memory of the people that lived in the village.

These exuberant, decorative objects were the servants that lived with the beast and also had the taste of the unfortunate spell of the Enchantress. They were magnificently created, it was sheer perfection indeed.

I was so surprised by Emma Watson's singing, she played a sweet 'Belle'. I definitely saw her as Belle. Her character really came through beautifully. (Dan Stevens) as the 'Beast' was on point. He gave us pure terror at times, but also true warmth to my heart.

Their dancing scene in the ballroom had me in tears, I was speechless.

(Ewan McGregor) as 'Lumière' and (Ian McKellen) as 'Cogsworth' are extremely bonkers in every way. I loved (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) as 'Plumette', the gorgeous, elaborate feather duster.

(Emma Thompson) as 'Mrs. Potts' is extraordinarily fantastic. Her little 'Chip' was extremely adorable.

I laughed so much with (Audra McDonald) as 'Madame Garderobe' who plays the wardrobe, the mad opera singer and with (Stanley Tucci) as 'Maestro Cadenza' who plays the piano. They were hysterically brilliant. An absolute, entertaining bunch of characters.

Enjoy Emma Watson bring this unforgettable, magical story come to life.

#TOTastemaker

Love MD.

Kat
tastemaker

Like many people my age Beauty & the Beast was my favourite childhood film. I was obsessed! I went to see it on ice and I was addicted to drinking milk out of a tiny plastic 'Chip' cup. So you can probably imagine my nerves as going to see my favourite film as real life modern characters made me feel.

I was nervous for seeing Emma Watson but I didn't need to be, she played the part perfectly even the singing!

Gaston was marvellous, the character was so perfect it gave me chills.

Yes it's pretty cheesy but wow the how film wowed me and had me toe tapping and probably slightly annoyingly mouthing all the words.

I even watched it as the 3D version, I don't have perfect vision for 3D as you need perfect eyesite to experience it all (optician told me this) but I still enjoyed the 3D parts jumping out at me and yes making me really jump out the seat at times.

Go see it, id probably go twice if it wasn't to expensive!

Teodora T
tastemaker

Lovely movie but don't expect any major surprises...it's more or less scene by scene copy and pasted from the original animated film. It's still a feel-good, beautiful movie though...With one flaw, the most memorable scene for me wasn't there...the snowy scene where all the birds perch on the Beast, it's insanely cute and should have been there! Too much of a CGI challenge?

Haley W
tastemaker

Absolutely loved this remake! Beauty and the beast was one of my childhood favourites and this film stayed true to story. Emma Watson was cast well for Belle!

Luisa G
Tastemaker

Lovely film. Beauty and the Beast has always been my favourite childhood film. One thing I would say, is that it was very hard to hear the singing over the music, and I often struggled to hear what was being sung about (luckily I knew all the songs anyway!). Also, Emma Watson was fab, but not sure that she was 100% the right person for the role. 

Jenni H
tastemaker

This is my top film of the year! I was quite worried before seeing this film. I mean, Beauty and the Beast is a classic, by far one of my favourite childhood films. I was apprehensive would do a "Jungle Book" and remake something that isn't quite the original. However, I was so pleased to be proven wrong with this remake! I thought the added humour, new songs, addition story and scene setting were also brilliant extras in this version. I also thought the casting was spot on. I was pleased it wasn't the "Emma Watson show" and thought every character had their moment to shine. For me, Gaston was my absolute favourite character, really and truly capturing the character as I had always imagined! This film is truly timeless and I'd recommend everyone going to see it.

Natasha Tooray
Tastemaker

I went to the cinema with a very low expectation, as I am usually a firm believer in classics re-imagined are awful. However, I was so breath-taken the whole movie journey! The score was the same throughout the movie and mirrored the classic. 

The plot holes (which I didn't notice too much in the original) were addressed and edited in the new movie. Emma Watson's acting was incredible - I went to the cinema with some animosity towards her casting as Belle, however, it completely melted as I realised she was the perfect choice.

The Beast was given a chance to be represented as someone whom could be loveable. He was smart, charming and dry humoured. (I and a lot of people I know were charmed by him too!).

The movie had been given an adult friendly uplift (I'm pleased to say the producers must have realised this appealed to the older market as well as children as per usual). The sarcasm and adult jokes of Cogsworth were well received and many, many kudos' to Disney for presenting two openly gay characters.


5*'s as it couldn't be faulted in my eyes. 

Paula - ToT
tastemaker

Expectations were very high for this film as I have been eagerly awaiting its release since I found out the film was going to be made.  I really did enjoy the film and thought the cast were very good - Emma Watson and Dan Stevens were the perfect choices for the leads and Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellan and Emma Thompson are fab too.  However, the film didn’t quite have the magic of the cartoon for me and I thought some of deviations from the storyline of the cartoon were unnecessary.  The film is beautiful to watch and the CGI is amazing.

Mazzie Cee
tastemaker

I love a great fairy tale and love this type of movie. Like ‘Cinderella’ it’s a great film, sticking close enough to the cartoon so you can make comparisons whilst adding extras to give the film a little more so you don’t come away thinking it was just a direct copy from animation to film. There are additional scenes like the explaining of the mother’s backstory. The film also takes the opportunity to correct mistakes the cartoon makes like amending the age of Mrs Potts so she can pass off as Chip’s mother rather than grandmother. There are additional songs but it’s great to hear the old favourites. ‘Be Our Guest’ is brilliant to see the should-be inanimate objects dance around in the movie with their host Lumiere. The cast was strong and entertaining with the exception of Emma Watson who fell a bit flat. The magical reveal of the castle’s residents turning back into their former selves was the best.

Jen W
tastemaker

I’ll try and make sure this is 30 year old me doing the reviewing rather than 6 year old me who absolutely loved the original movie (especially the library scene *swoon*). Anyway. After what seemed like the worlds longest lead-up… I have to say that I loved this movie. It struck a perfect balance between staying true to the original, yet incorporated a few new scenes and songs which were so unobtrusive I found myself thinking ‘was this in the original?’ Emma Watson was outstanding. She absolutely nailed the original character while giving Belle a fresh new look (I sound like Gok Wan) which was relevant for today’s audience. Gaston…. 6 year old me hated original Gaston but 30 year old me definitely doesn’t hate the new Gaston… Lefou, Gaston’s ‘right hand man’ was terrific: a workable mix of humour and kindness without trying too hard. Also 30 year old me feels a bit for the prince. I mean, no excuses whatsoever for his sh*tty behaviour but come on… if someone rocked up to your house party and all they brought was a rose…  would you really invite them in? 

Joanne  M
tastemaker

Now I am not one for musical movies but this really did move me and actually made me stay of my mobile for nearly the whole movie. Emma Watson who played Belle was supberb at playing her character and bought such emotion to the final scenes of the movie and the CGI candleabara, wardrobe, clock and teacup was so sweet and made my heart go out for them. The beast was great but maybe a bit to handsome looking in fact when he changed back to his human form I just wanted him to turn back to the dashing looking beast. The costumes also were spectacular. If you love musicals, romance and Disney Beauty and the Beast then I highly recommend this movie.

Danette
tastemaker

When I sat down in one of the comfy sofas of the Everyman on the corner by Granary square last Friday evening, I did not expect to like this modern take on a Disney classic as much as I did. Magical, sweet and as enchanting as the characters and the castle which are at the heart of the story- Beauty and the beast is sure to put a smile on your face and remind you that one should always hope for a silver lining.

Chelsbun
tastemaker

BEAUTIFUL! It takes nothing away from the beautiful story that it is. They stayed true to the original story only making it better quality. Emma Watson isn't my favourite actress but she was ok in this, strong and good voice, But it's the supporting roles that make it. Tony award winning voices are just beautiful. Worth a watch, especially if you enjoy strong music. It feels like a stage show on screen done really well.

Ros A
Tastemaker

Three stars from me on this Disney re-make. I may shock the world here by saying I'd never seen the Disney film (we just never had it on VHS, old school). So, this was a new experience for me and whilst I knew the vague storyline and a song or two I didn't go in with much else. 


The songs were ok but the story felt rushed and a bit unimaginative. I liked some of the characterisation - especially pantomime-esque Gaston and Emma Watson was decent as Belle.  A nice flick to bide the time but I can't say I'd rush back to watch it again. 

Tiago Almeida
Tastemaker

As a Disney version fan I found it a poor adaptation for an all time classic.

Disappointing to see that they tried to make this film a like for like version of the original instead of a trying a modern version.

There little chemistry between the characters and the animation was not great.

Regardless if you are a fan of the original I recommend you watching to reminisce your childwood memories

Mei M
Tastemaker

This adaptation of the Disney's classic is well done and entertaining. 


Nothing much to say about the story, I'm sure you all know it well, and you will see everything is pretty much identical to the 1991 animated film, from Belle's dresses to the conversations! 


I think this is a great movie to watch with your girlfriends, however, nothing beats the original one. I personally didn't like Emma Watson as Belle, I've always though of Belle as a proper brunette with rosie cheeks, so that was quite disappointing...overall not bad too watch but nothing amazing.