Review Blog

Beauty and the Beast review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on March 17, 2017 at 10:20 PM

Directed by: Bill Hoberman

Running time: 129 minutes

Release date: March 17, 2017

Genre: Musical, Fantasy, Romance, Family, Remake, and Adaptation

Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG in Standard, Disney Digital 3-D, RealD 3-D, & IMAX 3-D formats

In a live-action remake of Disney's 1991 animated film of the same name, itself an adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's fairy tale, is an American/British ensemble romantic fantasy musical epic film.  In this film adaptation, Emma Watson plays Belle, who is taken prisoner by a fearsome Beast aka The Prince (Dan Stevens) in his enchanted castle and learns to look beyond his appearance while evading a narcissistic hunter named Gaston (Luke Evans) who seeks take and wed Belle for himself.

The production development is a story within itself, as Disney began work on the film adapatation of the 1994 Broadway stage musical.  However, with a change of production theory and ideas, in 2011 Walt Disney Pictures having already beginning a new live-action version and remake of Beauty and the Beast after making other live-action fantasy films such as Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, and the recently Academy Award winning The Jungle Book it would be a better approach to entertain the international audience with an old-school full scale musical accompanied in this new new medium of live-action.

The plot is mirrored from the classic fairy tale, but puts emphasis on a duel storyline as it takes off with the backstory of the vain and pompus French Prince (Dan Stevens) hosting a debutante ball at his castle when a elderly beggar woman (Hattie Morahan, who is Agathe, a Villeneuve village resident and a once beautiful enchantress who watches and manipulaes the events between Belle and the Prince) appears seeking shelter from the cold.  When the Prince ignores her and taunts her appearance, the old woman reveals herself as the beautiful enchantress and curses the Prince by transforming him into a hideous ugly Beast confined to live is a cold unattractive castle.  She also turns his shallow servants into various household objects.

Years later, the second part of the duel storyline, in the village of Villeneuve, a young intellectual girl named Belle (Emma Watson) is bored of village life and seeks excitement.  She is grounded by her eccentric, overprotective and noble music-box inventer father Maurice (Kevin Kline).  Maurice feels he must be protective since the death of her mother since early childhood.  However, she is stalked by the evil vain hunter and former soldier Gaston (Luke Evans) who tries to woo her.  But she finds him obnoxious and repeatedly turns him down.

The duel plots merge when Belle and Maurice are placed in the confines of the Beast's castle, through a series of magical and mystical events **(avoiding the spoiler alert)**.  With supporting cast members; Daisy Duczmal as baby Belle, Rudy Goodman as the young Prince, Jolyon Coy as young Maurice, Josh Gad as Lefou Gaston's flamboyant bumbling sidekick, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere the Prince's bouteiller who has been transformed into a candelabra, Stanley Tucci as Mastro Cadenza the celebraed court composer transformed into a harpsicord, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth the Prince's head of household transformed into a mantel clock, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts the motherly head of the castle's kitchen transformed into a teapot, Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe the renowned opera singer transformed into a wardrobe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette the gutsy maid of the castle transformed into a feather duster, Adrian Schiller as Monsieur D'Argue a sly warden of the local village asylum who dastardly cohorts with evil Gaston against Belle in blackmail, Nathan Mack as Chip who is Mrs. Pott's son transformed into a teacup, and Gerard Horan as Monsieur Jean Potts an absent-minded Villeneuve potter, the large international cast add and maintain a high standard of talent in their performances as they share screen time.  Hattie Morahan narrates this fabulous fable throughout the film.

As a epic romantic musical laced with action and adventure, it is positively elaborate. It takes on an historical and imaginative event, mythic, legendary, as it is heroic.  It adds an extravagant setting and lavish costumes, accompanied by grandeur and spectacle, dramatic scope, high production values, and a sweeping musical score.  With eemphasis on full-scale scores, songs, and dance in a significent way, the musical and dance performances are perfectly integrated as part of the film narrative.  The fantasy scenes transcend the boundaries of human possibilities with elements of magic, myth, wonder, and the extraordinary.  Yet, the romantic scenes are affectionate affairs of the heart, that are long lasting and endearing.  In the caper aspects of the film being a thriller, it promotes intense excitement, anxiety, and nerve-wracking anticipation.

Beauty and the Beast, is a widescreen marvel and will be an Academy Award watch!


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