FILM REVIEW | Beauty and the Beast (2017)

REVIEW | Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, and Ian McKellen
Written By: Evan Spiliotopoulos and Stephen Chbosky; Directed by Bill Condon
Review by Mark David Major

(Film blurb begins) Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs. Beauty and the Beast is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast 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. (Film blurb ends)

It has been 25 years since I saw the original, animated version of Beauty and the Beast (1991). Honestly, I do not remember much about it except Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts and a vague sense that I enjoyed the film and music at the time. Disney’s new live-action version of Beauty and the Beast (2017) is certainly a worthy successor on many levels. It features a strong cast (for the most part). Emma Watson is the perfect Belle. Her voice is surprisingly pleasant though this film hardly tests her range as a singer. Ewan McGregor as Lumiere is the standout supporting voice actor and Emma Thompson (sporting a heavy Cockney accent, for some reason) is a worthy successor to Lansbury’s Mrs. Potts. Luke Evans and (especially) Josh Gad are also good as Gaston and Le Fou. The only minor weakness in the cast is Dan Stevens as the Beast/Prince. He is adequate, no more; hardly memorable in the role. Everyone including Disney knows this musical’s ‘money songs’, e.g. Be Our Guest and the title track. Disney certainly delivers the goods for those songs, especially “Be Our Guest”, which is the undeniable highlight of the film. It is very easy to understand why this new version of Beauty and the Beast is the highest grossing PG film in US history (at the time of writing; NOT most ticketed; Gone with the Wind and Star Wars are still #1 and #2 in that regard). Mark’s Grade: A

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