Review by John M. Delia, Jr.
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, with this release it’s the actors that have to reach out to the audience and make them believe. And they nail it! Much like the recent Walt Disney’s Cinderella (2015) and The Jungle Book (2016), I’m predicting Beauty and the Beast will be another worldwide blockbuster.
Their once was a Prince (Dan Stevens) that ruled the land. He would celebrate his wonderful life and do what he pleased. One day an old beggar lady appears at the castle ball needing shelter. But, the Prince refuses to help because of her appearance. It turns out the old lady was really a beautiful enchantress who places a curse on him and all who live in the palace.
Belle (Emma Watson) a beautiful and smart girl who loves to read lives in a faraway village in the same lands of the Prince. There Belle lives with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline), who is a local artist and clock maker. She’s a happy young woman who loves her dad who has brought her up since childhood.
The third main character in the tale of Beauty and the Beast is a soldier named Gaston (Luke Evans) who 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 spectacular job turning this fairytale into a spectacular live action film. He brings all the remarkable beauty of the film to the screen with amazing costumes, makeup, and sets. He engineers terrific special effects through CGI, directs his actors to delightful performances and works with his director of photography to deliver a masterpiece that will be remembered by all.
Just like the animated version, the story follows the same theme, but this version shows more details that fill in the gaps about the characters and the legend. It also brings more emotion from each character’s personality adding a few tense scenes and a finale with tears of joy. Beauty and the Beast will melt your heart and deliver a spark of romance in every young girl’s heart. It’s a sweet message that beauty can be seen on the inside deep within the heart of man.
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 and living 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. She should make good choices like this rather than her last four films.
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 heart when his wife died and will do anything to make Belle happy. A tip of the hat to an amazing actor who continues to please.
Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has been rated PG by the MPAA for some action violence, peril and frightening images. Use caution when taking the very young and immature children to see the film. Best bet, keep them close during the film as they may want a hug or two during the move scary scenes.
FINAL GRADE: I give this film top marks for its excellent direction and cast with the ability to bring the heartwarming screenplay to the silver screen.
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.
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Released in: 2D, 3D, IMAX 3D