Revamping “a tale as old as time” always comes with its problems, but with their latest live-action remake, Disney have managed to muster up enough Disney-magic to keep the fans happy.
We all know the story. Surely nobody is going into Beauty and the Beast expecting to be shocked by the plot, except perhaps the smallest of youngsters who’ve never encountered the tale before. For the rest of us, the film had to prove it could stand on its own two feet without just being the same again but with Emma Watson.
The film’s selling point is in its special effects, which promise to dazzle us with the newfound jumps in film technology and Disney’s high end budget. The beginning of the film had me worried. As the Beast kept to the shadows I felt unimpressed by the CGI. If I was supposed to feel threatened I didn’t. Even the castle felt less imposing that it should.
Thankfully as the film progressed, and we had scenes with better lighting, the Beast became a lot more realised and I found myself increasingly impressed by Dan Steven’s human performance shining through. The animated furniture was also well done, and soon I had forgotten the film’s shaky start.
The individual elements of the film were all impressive. Though in a fairly similar role, Emma Watson reminded us just how far she’s come from the early days of Harry Potter, and the rest of the cast were also consistently superb. The acting heavyweights of Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen and Ewan McGregor were all welcome additions, but particular praise has to be given to Luke Evan’s Gaston, who ramped up the energy every time he was on screen.
The familiar songs are all present and correct, still providing the emotional impact nearly thirty years on. The costumes were as colourful as they should be, and it was the moment when Belle descended the stairs in her iconic dress to meet the Beast in his suit that made me go “this is how you recreate the magic.”
At times, cracks could be seen as all these elements shuddered under the weight of the blockbuster. A few scenes could have done with tightening and trimming, but every time the film began to lose momentum there was always an exceptional scene round the corner to keep the cogs turning.
Though far from perfect, Beauty and the Beast is certainly the magical film experience it promises and I’m sure will prove hugely popular with a wide audience. How it will stand the test of time is anyone’s guess. It’s certainly a lovely introduction to the world of Disney princesses for the new fans, but maybe I’m just too old to use the words “instant classic.”
Oh and as far as the “exclusively gay moment”, I haven’t mentioned it because it’s not worth making a fuss about. It’s just another scene in an inclusive film where women can love Beasts and furniture can love furniture. Get over it.