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Beauty and the Beast

Cover Media logo Cover Media 23/03/2017
© Provided by Cover Media

Disney has been doing live-action remakes of its classics in recent years with films such as The Jungle Book and Cinderella, and it has now turned its attention to Beauty and the Beast.

Emma Watson plays Belle, an intellectual girl who is fed up of her life in a small French village. One day, her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) gets lost in the woods and winds up at a spooky castle which is inhabited by the Beast (Stevens), a young prince who has been cursed.

Belle rescues her father and takes his place and eventually comes to like the Beast, all thanks to meddling from other cursed occupants which are now household items such as clock Cogsworth (voiced by Ian McKellen), candlestick Lumiere (Ewan McGregor) and teapot Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson). They hope Belle will fall in love with the Beast and lift the curse before the last petal on the magical rose falls.

Appearance-wise, Watson is perfectly cast as Belle, as is Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as Le Fou, while all members of the cast show off their capable singing chops - but they all pale in comparison to Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald, who plays Madame Garderobe. McKellen and Thompson are the perfect choices for Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts but McGregor's French accent was rather inconsistent and some of the on-camera performances were cheesy and lacked realism, but this is permissible given it's a Disney musical.

The well-known songs from the original, including Beauty and the Beast, Gaston and Be Our Guest, have been kept and are just as enjoyable this time around. There are four new song additions but these aren't quite as memorable. The song and dance sequences are expertly choreographed and will delight any musical fan, especially the opening number Belle, which sets the crowd-pleasing tone and the gorgeous ballroom dancing scene between Belle and the Beast to the title track.

The movie is visually stunning and the CGI is impressive, especially on Stevens' Beast, who is given more depth and emotion thanks to motion capture technology and more singing opportunities.

Although the remake is very loyal to the original, there are other additions which expand upon and modernise the story. For example, we delve more into the leads' back stories, Belle is no longer a damsel in distress, the ending has had a slight tweak and there are references to homosexual and interracial relationships but these are more subtle than headlines would suggest.

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