Beauty and the Beast
by Tony Medley
Runtime 129 minutes.
OK for children.
Disney’s idea of
turning its 1991 animated hit into a live action/animated film resulted
in a terrific film but there are a few downers.
production numbers are compelling. The mix of live action and animation
is extremely well done, and the acting is very good.
On the downside,
though, one of the first scenes shows Beauty standing on a hill à la
Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music (1965). But unlike that 50
year old movie that was actually shot on a hilltop in Austria with a
real background, the backdrop is not real. The unchanging sky and clouds
appear to be painted phonies as flat and fake as the opening scenes of
Casablanca (1942). In this day and age, and considering the
amount of money that Disney spent on this film, it’s surprisingly
Beauty (Belle) is
played by Emma Watson. If she were a high school girl she’d be
considered moderately attractive. What she isn’t, is a “beauty.” She’s
not the person to be playing a title character called “Beauty.”
The Beast is played
by Dan Stevens. When he’s photographed to look like a Beast, he’s got a lot
of sex appeal. But when he turns back into the Prince he looks like a
nerd. I think that a real Belle would yearn for the return of The Beast.
I’m not into
animation at all and generally decline to view animated films, but
what’s done here is really good. Fortunately, however, the film is
actually a lot more live action than animated.
The other visual effects
and special effects, like the forest and the castle, are extraordinary,
clearly award-quality work.
Just so you know
who’s who, after the prince is turned into a beast and his household
workers are turned into furniture and other things, here are the
players: Lumière (Ewan McGregor), a
candelabra; Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), a mantel clock; Mrs. Potts
(Emma Thompson), a teapot; Madame de Garderobe (Audra McDonald), a
(Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a feather duster; and Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci),
a harpsichord. All this is extremely well-done.
Stevens is turned into The Beast digitally through performance and
facial capture technology, not makeup. It is very realistic and
Evans plays the bad guy, Gaston, and he does become hateful. One of the
best performances in the film is by Kevin Kline, who plays Belle’s
father, Maurice, the main object of Gaston’s hatred.
pace holds up even though it’s well over two hours long. I wasn’t blown
away by the music (there are three new songs), but the outstanding production
numbers make the most of it (the score won an Oscar® in 1991), so that
the lack of high quality melody is minimized. The music certainly
doesn't rival Gigi
(1958) or Mary Poppins (1964).
it’s not perfect. Even so, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I
would, and I think most people should enjoy it, too.