A Masterstroke, Revisited: Our Review of ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 16, 2017
A Masterstroke, Revisited: Our Review of ‘Beauty and the Beast’

The process of bringing back a beloved, masterful classic animated family film elicits optimism, worry, cynicism, and nostalgia. For Disney, in the case of Beauty and the Beast, it helps if you’re cooking with the right ingredients.

Their live action remake of this cherished piece of storytelling, like the original, is near perfect, from mysterious start to joyous finish with laughter, hope, sadness, and song in between. It seems that with time, Disney has taken to combine lush special effects, the right cast (minus some singing capabilities), and more comprehensive storytelling that can’t help but satisfy protective fans and entertain each and every guest.

Handled with care by director Bill Condon and writers Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos, Beauty and the Beast faithfully tells the tale from the original film of a bookish, independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a cursed beast in his castle of singing appliances while small-minded townspeople and one brutish misogynist grow petty and scared. Enlisting a cast that is more talented at acting than singing, with the exception of Josh Gad who as LeFou is perfectly adept at both, Beauty and the Beast stays true to the look and feel of the original; they just made it even more luscious and palpable.

Emma Watson is Belle, and the actress, who surely is more than capable of portraying any figure, seems perfectly fit to take up a strong-minded, well-read, loyal, and protective young woman. The oaf seeking her affection seems perfectly cast as well, with Luke Evans and his chiseled chin as Gaston. Following a brief and eerie prologue, these two together, along with the entire small town, start Beauty and the Beast proper in mesmerizing fashion.

Each musical number turns into a spectacle, and the newer song additions fit in nicely, as do several narrative asides that seek to fill in potential plot holes. The voices lent to the cursed of the castle include Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, and Stanley Tucci, all of whom are more play more capricious than dramatic.

If there is any misstep by the film, it may be indeed that caution exercised by the creators. For instance, the so-called ‘exclusively gay moment’ for many like this writer will be seen as tepid and a missed opportunity. The singing limitations of the actors may be noticed here and there as well, and some of the more monumental action sequences may not quite live up to the moment. Even though, Beauty and the Beast does more than just hold serve.

It adds depth and weight to an already great film, provides more context and story, and even more beauty and textuality. The most important part of this film, that peice that holds it together, is all it’s earnest joy. It is deliberately magical, believably whimsical, and fueled by genuine hope and happiness. The romance at the heart is pure, the songs lively, and the experience entirely lovely.

Beauty and the Beast is also something rare: it’s a story that has been told before, it’s a film that will make a great deal of money, and it’s also a beautiful, worthwhile experience.

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