Disney continues its streak of breathing new life to its classic animated films with Beauty and the Beast. Directed by Bill Condon, this bewitching adaptation features Harry Potter star Emma Watson and Downton Abbey alum Dan Stevens in the lead roles as the provincial Belle and the iconic beast, respectively.
Joining them on this magical adventure are some of Hollywood’s A-list stars that include Luke Evans as Gaston, Josh Gad as Lefou, Kevin Kline as Maurice, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe, and Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza.
Staying true to the original animated classic, the film follows the story of Belle who is held captive by a hideous beast in his castle after her father unwittingly picks a rose from his garden. As a prisoner, she meets some of the castle’s enchanted residents and eventually learns to look past the beast’s ugly facade and see the softhearted, caring nature of the true Prince within.
To be honest, I am not a big fan of this film. Despite all the breathtaking trailers and dazzling promotional images, I was just not looking forward to this film the same way I was inflamed with enthusiasm to see Logan, King Kong, or even its box office competition for this week, Get Out.
And yet 130 minutes later, I walked out of the theater with a big smile on my face, all the while humming exultantly to Bonjour. I was 100% sold! If this is how Disney treats all of its future live-action remakes, then I am surely going to put down any second thoughts from now on.
The studio’s live-action rehash of the 1991 animated classic is, without a doubt, ambitious and resplendent in scale and wonder. From the enchanting musical numbers, impressive set pieces, and a delightful performance from its powerhouse of a cast, Condon has crafted a touching fairy tale that feels fresh even if there’s basically nothing new to its overall plot. And that’s acceptable – they went with the same tried-and-true narrative formula for 2015’s Cinderella and yet, it turned out to be an equally satisfying reboot.
Speaking of the cast, Disney deserves a pat on the back for always having the best casting for its live-action remakes. And this one is no different. Both lead stars truly shine in their respective roles, as with all of its supporting cast. In fact, with Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Sir Ian McKellen, and Stanley Tucci all in one roof, the film can pretty much do no wrong.
But that’s not to say the film doesn’t have it flaws. Emma Watson’s portrayal of Belle is actually far from perfect – there are moments when her “musical” performance seems quite awkward and off-putting. But frankly, I can’t really think of anyone else more fitting or deserving for this role than she is. She exudes a certain warmth and resilience that blends perfectly into the character of the iconic Disney princess.
All in all, Beauty and the Beast is a charming addition to Disney’s growing number of live-action remakes that will please both die-hard fans and casual onlookers. It’s a straightforward and breathtaking visual spectacle, and one that’s created with utmost respect to its original source material.