A tale as old as time and as great as ever. After a couple of misfires with the Twilight franchise, Bill Condon is able to reinvigorate Beauty and the Beast with the magic that made it so popular to begin with. Emma Stone is dazzling with her take on a more modernist Belle that’s not only beautiful, but will help spread the concept of female empowerment among young girls. The story is basically the same with the exception of a few tweaks done to revamp some of the story beats.
Let’s just get the first blatant negative out of the way, the Beast. Not Dan Steven’s great interpretation of hailed fabulous monster, but his look. Looking at it today, it’s not bad, but the problem is it’s not great and the CGI is perceivable, meaning when I decide to pop in my blu-ray or whatever we’ll be using to watch films in a fifteen years, the Beast will most likely not hold up. That certainly sucks and it does detract from the experience that a character’s whose name is literally in the title doesn’t look like he’ll hold up to the test of the time. Thankfully, the genius of Dan Stevens saves the creature from simply being a silly animated creature and actually makes a fine character out of the monstrous entity. Look at it this way, is The Birds a good film? Yes, it’s quite great. Does its dated special effects detract from said greatness? Yes, but the film is till quite great.
With that out of the way, we may now focus on the musical enchantment Beauty and the Beast washes over the audience. With each and every joyful melody, there was always someone humming or singing in the crowd. Could their none professional voices or ashamed whispers get annoying sometimes, yes, but that’s not the point. The point is this film’s mood leaped beyond the screen and infected the movie-goers with its infectious buoyancy.
Performance-wise, since most of the actors only provided their voices, something they did in stupendous fashion, I’ll choose to focus on the visible human beings. Of course there’s Emma Watson’s Belle, a portrayal I mentioned not only respects the original Disney classic, but also incorporates a feminist message that truly livens some of the dated elements from the animated version. On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the gallivanting misogynist Gaston played by Luke Evans. He most definitely embraces the macho-man attitude of Gaston in this film and he does so with such an a muscular embrace that must be admired. All in all, the acting is great and the casting department should be applauded for assembling such a magnificent ensemble together.
What can I say, the tale is timeless and so be it. Just like Disney’s last interpretation of the classic fable and Jean Cocteau before them, Beauty and the Beast is a great fable for the ages. As for this version of the story, it’ll help introduce the classic story to kids of this new millennium and it’ll do so in great fashion. Not only is the tale as great as ever, but its also acted quite beautifully and done as fashionably as past interpretations, making it yet another live-action success for the money-making machine that is Disney.