Beauty and the Beast is a fantasy film, and is Disney’s live-action remake of their iconic animated film of the same title. When an Enchantress (Hattie Morahan) curses a Prince (Dan Stevens), he turns into a Beast, and must find true love before the last petal of an enchanted rose falls in order for the curse to be broken. Ten years later, a villager called Belle (Emma Watson) arrives at his castle, where she becomes his prisoner in exchange for her father’s (Kevin Kline) freedom. Belle and the Beast, however, end up bonding, but can she fall in love with him in time for the curse to be broken?
- Excellent motion capture work is done in creating the Beast, with Dan Stevens’s performance shining through the CGI creature that he is made into. As well as this, the live-action and motion capture actors interact very well with the purely CGI characters, with Emma Watson in particular being a natural at it (no doubt a decade of Harry Potter is part of the reason why). The two leads also develop an excellent chemistry on screen with each other, which is very engaging for the viewer.
- Wonderful production design, with a tremendous amount of detail brought to the village that Belle lives in, but most especially the Beast’s castle, which has a stunning gothic quality and real texture to it. Equally the characters are designed with great detail, and the CGI brings real texture to the Beast, while also retaining that much needed human quality.
- The songs may be the exact same songs as the ones in the original animation, but the musical sequences are wonderfully choreographed, with Bill Condon’s direction shining through. Emma Watson’s singing is nothing short of outstanding, and comes over so naturally. Also, Luke Evans (who plays antagonist Gaston) sings magnificently, and brings real energy to his musical sequences, and the passion that started with his background in musical theatre stands out.
- With the purely CGI characters, two voice performances stand out in memory after leaving the cinema – Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, and Ian McKellen as Cogsworth. Ewan McGregor’s voice performance comes across as really passionate, the native Scot clearly having a lot of fun with the role; while Ian McKellen’s voice performance conveys Cogsworth’s pomp and superiority complex perfectly.
- There is nothing memorable about the other voice performances, the notable example being that Emma Thompson’s turn as Mrs Potts has no difference to that of Angela Lansbury’s twenty-six years ago.
- The purely CGI characters may be well designed, and Emma Watson and Dan Stevens interact very well with them, but the CGI is to a noticeably lesser quality than that of the CGI that creates the Beast, which is a bit disappointing.
- Ultimately this film relies far too much on nostalgia for Disney’s animated film from 1991, with the few original ideas that are brought to the table being altogether quite underwhelming.