This live action version of the beloved animated classic has plenty of action – but could use stronger characterisations to make it an even stronger film.
For those who (like me) grew up knowing and loving the original animated fairytale classic, there were some doubts about whether Bill Condon’s live action version could live up to the standard set by the original. But now having seen it, while it is not perfect there is still much to be admired in this refreshing new take on the fairytale.
This is not least down to some lovely new songs included to help flesh out the story in places as well as a bit more of a backstory to Belle’s family – leading to a touching new moment between Belle and the Beast that helps develop their relationship further.
Alan Menken’s new music includes the lovely ‘Days in the Sun’ and ‘Evermore’, both capturing the wistfulness and loneliness of both Belle and and the Beast in different ways, filled with richly textured music that is glorious to listen to.
Of course vocally, all of the cast are exposed at some point or another – but none more so than Emma Watson. Now while there are moments when she seems to struggle such as the top notes of ‘Belle’ which have been slightly lowered to make allowances, I actually found as the film goes on that her style of singing is quite endearing. Meanwhile, both Dan Stevens and Luke Evans both equally impress vocally, having no problem adding a sense of drama and richness to their performances.
The main problem with Bill Condon’s film is the feeling of lack of characterisation and sense of rushing through certain moments to get to the main action – the iconic dance scene for example seems to fly by in an instant, even though it is a key moment between Belle and the Beast. Meanwhile beloved characters such as Mrs Potts, Cogsworth and Lumiere aren’t given enough to do to make as much of an impact as they could.
But as always with a Disney film, all of the details are there and there is no denying that it is a beautiful film to watch with the castle luxuriously designed and the costumes being wonderfully reimagined for a contemporary audience – it keeps the look and feel of the original film, while putting a modern twist on the characters.
There are some great performances to be enjoyed not least from Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou – a great partnership that works really well and brings plenty of laughs to the film. Emma Watson as Belle does well to make the part her own – a contemporary female princess who shows no fear but could use just a little more spirit when it comes her moments with Gaston, while Dan Stevens is suitably cold and sinister as the Beast but allowed to soften gradually in a way not seen in the original film – thanks to additional scenes with Belle that captures the change in their relationship beautifully.
Overall, for those who loved the original it won’t fully convince that this live action film needed to be made but it is an interesting adaptation that is beautiful and entertaining to watch.
Beauty and the Beast is available to buy on DVD now.