Can Beauty tame the Beast once more? This beautiful fairy tale of Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has now been turned into a live action motion picture that delivers a more detailed story. What once was animation that provided the story of romance and power, becomes reality with this release on Blu-ray combo pack that includes a DVD + Digital HD. It’s now the actors that have to reach out to home viewers and make them believe. And they nail it!
Their once was a Prince (Dan Stevens) that ruled the land. He would celebrate his wonderful life with ballroom dances and do what he pleased. One day an old beggar lady appears at the castle needing shelter, but the Prince refuses to help because of her appearance. In really a beautiful enchantress, she places a curse on him and all who live in the palace.
Belle (Emma Watson) a beautiful and carefree villager loves to read and enjoys her life in her small town far from the estate of the Prince. There Belle keeps the house tidy and prepares the meals for her father Maurice (Kevin Kline). He’s a widower and local artist and clock maker that tries to make a living peddling his fine works.
The third main character in the tale of Beauty and the Beast is a boastful soldier named Gaston (Luke Evans). He has been smitten by the lovely Belle and would stop at nothing to win her heart. But, Belle is a strong minded woman and knows that being with Gaston would not work, so she rebukes his advances. That is until the day comes that changes everyone’s life forever.
Director Bill Condon does a fine job turning this fairytale into a delightful and adventurous live action film. He keeps all the remarkable beauty of the animated adventure for this production with amazing costumes, makeup, and sets almost identical to the original. He engineers terrific special effects through copious CGI, directs his actors to charming performances and works with his director of photography to deliver a stunning success that will be remembered by all.
I am pleasantly surprised that this version of Beauty and the Beast shows more details that fill in the gaps about the characters and the legend. It also brings more emotion from each of the characters and adding a few tense scenes in addition to the heartwarming finale. It still gives a sweet message that beauty is more than skin deep.
Giving one of the best performances of the year, Emma Watson shows the subtleties of Belle’s world. She takes care of her father while longing for a mother, uncertain of her future. In the meantime she lives her life through the fantasies of the books she reads. Watson also has a great singing voice delivering songs like “Belle” with one of her co-stars Luke Evans; “Something There” with Dan Stevens as the Beast; “How Does a Moment Last Forever”; and the title song “Beauty and the Beast”. Wow, has Watson grown in her acting ability and I’d love to see more from her in rolls like this. She should make good choices like this rather than her last four films. Look for her to walk across the stage on Oscar Night.
Other mentions go out to Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline and Luke Evans who give enjoyable performances that make the whole film work. I especially like Kline in the heartfelt role of Belle’s father Maurice. He’s a believer who lost his will for adventure when his wife died and will do anything to make his daughter happy. A tip of the hat to an amazing actor who continues to please.
Bonus features included in the following formats:
BLU-RAY & DIGITAL HD:
“Enchanted Table Read” Join the cast for the movie’s elaborately staged table read, complete with singing and dancing to live music, set pieces and more.
“A Beauty of a Tale” Explore the process of transforming a beloved animated film into a new live-action classic.
“The Women Behind Beauty and the Beast” Emma Watson introduces several of the talented women in all aspects of production who helped bring this enchanted tale to life.
“Making a Moment with Celine Dion” Celine Dion shares what it’s like to sing “How Does a Moment Last Forever” – and be a part of the legacy of “Beauty and the Beast.”
“From Song to Screen: Making the Musical Sequences” See what goes into making some of the best-known moments from “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Belle” — Filmmakers and cast reveal how it felt to shoot this memorable scene.
“Be Our Guest” — Discover all that went into creating this epic, primarily virtual performance.
“Gaston” — Join the cast for rehearsals and filming of this rousing, high-energy number.
“Beauty and the Beast” — You’re invited on set for the filming of this beloved, classic scene.
“Deleted Scenes” Introduction by Director Bill Condon — Director Bill Condon presents a collection of scenes that, for one reason or another, ended up on the cutting-room floor.
They include: “Gaston Courts Belle” — Pleased with himself after settling a disturbance with the townspeople, a triumphant Gaston attempts to woo Belle. “Bread and Jam for Agathe” — On her morning market rounds, Belle stops by to see Agathe, the village beggar woman. “Storming the Ice Gates” — The angry mob of villagers, led by Gaston, overwhelms the castle’s defenses. “Lumière Torches LeFou” — As the fight rages around them, LeFou scuffles with Plumette … until he experiences a sudden, extremely heated interruption. “Monsieur Toilette” — LeFou escapes from the brawl into a small room, where he’s startled by a castle resident. “Cogsworth Rescues Lumière” — When Clothilde the fishmonger threatens Lumière, Cogsworth leaps into the fray. “Treacle the Lasses” — Three village lasses chase Chip and Froufrou – Madame Garderobe’s dog-turned-footstool – into the kitchen, where a surprise awaits. “LeFou and Monsieur Toilette Reunite” — After the spell is broken and the castle residents are returned to human form, LeFou and his new acquaintance meet again.
“Extended Song: ‘Days in the Sun’” – Learn more about Beast’s childhood in an alternate version of this beautiful song, introduced by director Bill Condon.
“Beauty and the Beast” Music Video – Award-winning artists Ariana Grande and John Legend perform a moving version of this iconic song.
“Making the Music Video” – Go on set to capture the magic as it happens in Ariana Grande and John Legend’s “Beauty and the Beast” music video.
“Disney Song Selection” – Jump directly to all your favorite songs and sing along with the movie. “Belle”, “How Does a Moment Last Forever” (Music Box), “Belle” (Reprise)
“Gaston”, “Be Our Guest”, “Days in the Sun”, “Something There”, “How Does a Moment Last Forever” (Montmartre), “Beauty and the Beast”, “Evermore”, “The Mob Sing”, “Beauty and the Beast” (Finale)
“Beauty and the Beast” Music Video
Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has been rated PG by the MPAA for some action violence, peril and frightening images. Best bet, keep your very young children close during the home showing the first time around as they may need your comfort during the movie’s scary scenes.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Excellent direction and cast makes the transition from animation to live action seamless.
Additional Film Information:
Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Hattie Morahan, Haydn Gwynne, Emma Thompson, Audra McDonald, and Stanley Tucci
Directed by: Bill Condon
Genre: Musical, Drama, Family
MPAA Rating: PG for some action violence, peril and frightening images
Running Time: 2 hrs. 9 min.
Original Theatrical Release Date: March 17, 2017
Video Release Date: June 6, 2017
Reviewed Format: Blu-ray
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Descriptive Audio (changeable to Spanish and French)
Video: Widescreen, 1080p Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Number of Discs: 2 Discs + Digital HD code
Distributed by: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Released in: DVD, Blu-ray 2D, Blu-ray 3D
The comments within this review are the critic’s expressed opinions.