Directed by Bill Condon, Emma Watson stars as Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within. The film also stars Luke Evans as Gaston, Kevin Kline as Maurice, Josh Gad as LeFou, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts. Being a big fan of the original Beauty and the Beast, my fiancée and I were pretty nervous/excited about this retelling of a tale as old as time. Did it fulfill our expectations? Be my guest and follow me as I review the retelling of Beauty and the Beast. *SPOILER WARNING*
Despite his lack of biceps to spare, Luke Evans as Gaston is incredibly cast… probably the only one perfectly cast in the whole film. Don’t get me wrong, most of the actors and actresses are really good but Evans does an amazing job bringing Gaston to life. I thought Emma Watson was a perfect Belle as well. Once I got home, I thought about what the quintessential Belle is – a smart, spoken, adventurous and brave girl (beauty aside). Emma Watson fits more into the shoe as she walked with it. Not to mention the star-studded cast that is all brilliant in their own light especially the dynamic duo between McGregor and McKellen as Lumiere and Cogsworth. Dan Stevens was excellent as the Beast and he looked pretty handsome as the Beast and as the Prince (don’t judge me). I really did like the added backstory to the Prince, it humanized him more. It also makes sense that the prince would be very well educated with a library that large, though I suppose it’s now not canon that Belle doesn’t teach him to read.
The CGI was done pretty well and the songs were incredible especially the original song for the Beast. The production design and the costumes are absolutely gorgeous. The castle looked amazing, and I thought the extravagance of it was perfect. It was like something out of Versailles. I wasn’t sure about Belle’s iconic yellow dress from the released images, but it’s much better on-screen. Whoever was in charge of the wardrobe did an amazing job, the outfits were beautiful and stayed true to the timeline. I love the extensions added on top of the original. Beast being well versed in literature and a bookworm himself, it makes more sense for Belle to fall in love with him than just because he saved her. In regard to the theme of books, shoutout to the fact that village’s library was only a row of few books (instead of shelves of books in the original movie), really showed how illiterate the village people were. I loved the reason why Beast is a jerk was revealed with a backstory, giving him an extra dimension and make his character development to be more believable (good inside, but brought up badly). I also liked seeing the staff blaming themselves for not doing anything, thus their sense of duty and loyalty to Beast. Maurice and Belle’s relationship is very sweet. this really shows how much understanding they both have of each other. It also made sense why Maurice emphasized “small village is safe” because he wanted to avoid the plague. Le Fou character development is also interesting, he’s not just Gaston’s lackey, he actually has a moral standard of his own and is not comfortable with some of Gaston’s actions.
While I did love this film, I had one minor gripe. Emma Watson’s auto-tuned singing was a bit distracting. Everybody else was so natural sounding, especially Dan Stevens in some of the original songs added to the movie. If she couldn’t hit the notes (which is understandable, this is a hard role and she’s not a professional singer) I wish they could have kept the roughness of her original takes. This would have been preferable to the artificial sound the post production gave her.
Truth be told I wasn’t expecting a lot but it turned out well in the end. It was very faithful to what Beauty and the Beast is. From the time it greets you with the familiar soundtrack to the bubble bursting scene with Chip, to the ever beautiful Tale as Old as Time, it will captivate new fans and the old ones as well. I thought this movie was very well-done. It wasn’t cheesy or kid-oriented, really a movie for all ages across time. By far, the best live action rendition of any of the Disney properties. If there is nothing wrong, don’t fix it. Rather, add to it. Expand it. Which is exactly what this movie did.
SUPERSAM RATING: ★★★★½