Disney’s new live action adaption of Beauty and the Beast is a charming take on their 1991 Academy Award winning animated classic. Beauty and the Beast tells the tale of Belle, a “funny girl” who, in exchange for her father’s freedom, is taken prisoner in an enchanted castle by a hideous beast. It is in that castle she learns to look beyond the Beast’s exterior and see the man inside.
It is important to note this film is not an exact re-telling of the animated film and if you have seen the 1991 film, be sure to treat the live action with an open mind. Comparing the two films will only leave you disappointed. This film does not try to recreate or outdo the original. Instead it tries to bring that story to life and in doing so, answers a number of questions the original never explained.
Changes are expected, and just like any adaptation, there are some that don’t translate well in live action form. The three new songs courtesy of Alan Menken, who composed the music for the animated movie, are delightful additions. Each song comes at the perfect moment and gives the audience more insight into the characters. Beast’s “Evermore” is the clear stand out.
Emma Watson and Dan Stevens take on the title roles of Belle and the Beast, respectively. Both find ways to make their characters their own. Stevens has some real musical prowess and Watson’s voice, while not strong, is pleasant.
Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou are a treat. Their chemistry may be one of the best parts of the movie and their big musical number “Gaston” is a highlight. Evans portrayal of the narcissistic, slightly crazy Gaston is spot on.
Rounding out the cast is Audra McDonald (Madame de Garderobe), Ewan McGregor (Lumière), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Stanley Tucci (Maestro Cadenza), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette), and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts. Each gave their cursed inanimate object real personality. McDonald’s musical talent is underutilized and the addition of Tucci’s Cadenza is unneeded. But McKellen and McGregor’s repartee is endearing and reminiscent of the duo’s interaction in the original.
Disney took a risk bringing this musical to life, as it is a story loved by many, but the risk does pay off. One will find it hard to leave this delightful adaptation without a smile. Children under the age of 5 to the movie might not enjoy this film in theaters. There are some scenes that are a little scary, so maybe wait and have them see it when it comes out on DVD.