My first thought of Disney producing a live action remake of the animated romantic musical fantasy Beauty and the Beast was…Why?
It was the same feeling when I heard that The Jungle Book was getting a Disney re-boot and I had already made my mind up that I wasn’t going to like it. However, I was pleasantly surprised as this almost totally CGI version had all our favourite characters but in a different telling of the famous Kipling story.
The new version of Beauty and the Beast is almost ‘shot for shot’ the same as the 1991 cartoon feature film, including all the classic tunes plus the new version has a bonus of three brand new songs.
But right from the opening ‘Oliveresque’ village scene, when Belle (Emma Watson) sings about her little provincial town, I was hooked!
Watson makes an enchanting Belle and actually has a very good singing voice (as do most of the cast). She has a certain charm that just makes you care about her and once again she plays another strong female character.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the storyline. Belle is thought of as some kind of odd-ball by the local villagers, as she always has her head inside a book. She lives with her widower Father, Maurice (Kevin Kline) who is a clockmaker but also thought of as being a bit strange by the villagers.
While on a journey to the next town. Maurice gets lost in the woods and his wagon is attacked by a pack of wolves. Maurice seeks safety and refuge in an old run down castle only to be imprisoned by a frightening and hideous Beast (Dan Stevens) who was once a Prince. But his arrogance and viciousness to an old Hag, made her cast a spell over him and his whole palace staff.
Belle finds the castle and makes a deal with the Beast to take her Fathers place as his prisoner. Meanwhile the Prince’s enchanted staff think that this may be the girl who can fall in love with the Beast and break the spell. But time is running out.
The casting is excellent with a primarily best of British thespians including Dan Stevens as the Beast, Ewan McGregor as the candlestick Lumiere, Ian Mckellen as Cogsworth the clock, Emma Thompsom as Mrs Potts and inspired casting of Luke Evans as Gaston who looks as though he just stepped out of the animated feature. Although, we must mention the great Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza as the harpsichord, Audra McDonald as Madame Garderode and comedian Joss Gad as LeFou, Gaston’s side kick but you can faintly hear a little bit of Olaf in his voice.
The original songs were written by Disney’s favourite song writing duo Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (who sadly past away in 1991). Fortunately, Menken agreed to write three new songs for the new version. “How does a moment last forever?” sung by Maurice (Kline) and reprised by Belle (Watson), “Days in the Sun” song by the castle servants and “Evermore” sung by the Beast after he releases Belle to go and help her Father, knowing that she will not come back and the spell will never be broken.
The difference in this version of the film is that there is more of a musical feel and you could be watching a Broadway or West End show.
If there had never been an animated feature film, you would think that this was the most awesome fantasy family film ever made.
I confess that near the end of the film my eyes were watering somewhat from that pesky cinema dust that tends to fly around the screening rooms!
This is going to be one of the must-see films of 2017.
In cinemas March 17