Friday, March 17, 2017

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Disney's latest live-action adaptation is the musical romance, Beauty in the Beast. Using stunning and gorgeous special effects, the story of Belle (Emma Watson) and her imprisonment by and growing affection for the Beat (Dan Stevens) plays out in the same way as the cartoon. A selfish prince is cursed by an enchantress and everyone in his castle is turned into fancy objects. Belle finds herself in a small town gossiped about by the villagers and wooed by the crude hunter Gaston (Luke Evans). Belle's father Maurice (Kevin Kline) is an inventor hoping to sell his wares at the market when he becomes lost in the woods and stumbles upon the enchanted castle. He is imprisoned by the Beast but his horse returns to Belle who seeks out her father. 

Belle trades places with her father but is let out of her cell by the mouthy candlestick Lumiere (Ewan McGregor). The cautious clock Cogsworth (Ian McKellen) does not support the idea but Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson), her son Chip (Nathan Mack), the dresser Madame Garderobe (Audra McDonald), and Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci) are friendly to Belle and encourage the Beast to talk with her. They romance starts slow but in time their affection grows. Meanwhile, supported by his friend LeFou (Josh Gad), Gaston continues his plan to wed Belle by trying to win over her father who spouts outrageous stories of the Beast capturing Belle. Gaston does not believe him and they are unable to discover the castle.

The Beast and Belle grow fonder of each other bonding over reading and their mutual ostracism from the outside world. The objects work to make Belle feel comfortable and push her and the Beast together as Maurice is persecuted for his statements. As the Beast falls for Belle, he decides to let her go and she returns to the village to help free her father after seeing his distress in the enchanted mirror. She works to free her father and uses the same mirror to show the villagers the Beast, which whips them into a furious mob that marches to the castle. A hilarious battle plays out and there is a final duel between Gaston and the Beast, which ends tragically until the enchantress comes through and fixes everything.

The film is a fun time with the same catchy songs as the original cartoon and only a small amount of additional exposition about Belle's mother that only fleshes out the character more. The set pieces are extraordinarily beautiful and it is hard to believe Belle when she complains that the town is provincial when it looks so gorgeous. The special effects looked great though the candle and clock looked a bit different than the cartoon. The Beast looks great and Dan Stevens's expressions come through to humanize and endear the furry creature. Emma Watson is great and can sing quite while though she wouldn't commit to a few songs that really needed that extra lung power. The supporting cast is wonderful as well, Luke Evans as Gaston was my favorite followed closely by Ewan McGregor's Lumiere and Josh Gad's Lefou.

Disney has done a great job adapting their animated properties into live action spectacles from this film to the Jungle Book and Maleficent, I've yet to see Cinderella. This film will be a smash at the box office and an all-around huge success despite mediocre reviews. I found the songs very catchy and wonderful and would love to see this film again when it comes to rental. I would highly recommend this to those who grew up with the film and enjoy musical fairytales. 

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