This year’s live-action adaptation of the classic Disney animation stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens and Luke Evans. Watson plays Belle who, in an attempt to save her father (Kevin Kline) from the claws of the Beast (Stevens), is taken prisoner by the furry menace. The Beast was formerly a prince but was cursed to look as he does now until he learns to love someone – who loves him in return.
I really enjoyed this film, and got completely swept up in its story. I’ve never seen the Disney animation version or any of the other adaptations so despite knowing where the story was roughly heading, I did not know some of the intricacies of the plot.
For the most part, the cast of the film do an excellent job in their roles; Dan Stevens is an interesting, endearing Beast, Luke Evans is a bombastic and buffoonish Gaston and Kevin Kline is wonderful as always as Belle’s slightly useless father. In the voice cast, playing the Beast’s former servants transformed into objects, Emma Thomspon, Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellen and Gugu Mbatha-Raw all shine. However it is Ewan McGregor who stands out as Lumiere. From his over-the-top French accent to his lavish musical number “Be Our Guest”, McGregor seems born to play this role and he makes the most of it.
Emma Watson and Josh Gad are the weak links in the cast for me. Though Watson looks the part, she never makes the character truly interesting and her singing voice is obviously heavily auto-tuned and dubbed which is distracting. I would have loved to have seen what Hailee Steinfeld could have brought to this role, who would be my first choice. Josh Gad seems too American, anachronistic and irritating to ever break out of the annoying comic relief role, which is a disappointment.
The songs are classics and rightly so, and even as a Disney novice I could hum along to them. A few new songs have been added – “Evermore” sung by the Beast makes an impact. The cast have excellent singing voices; McGregor, Thompson, Audra McDonald and Stevens belt tunes with great passion and they sucked me into the story. However, Luke Evans is the showstopper in this department, and his sonorous Welsh tones and flamboyant delivery make “Gaston” the highlight of the film musically.
This film was a real treat and despite the abundance of CGI, which could have been reduced, I left the film with my heart soaring. If you are a fan of the animated version or any of the many other adaptations (here’s to all you Cocteau fans out there), then perhaps this film will not win you over like it did me. Did it need to be made? Probably not. Did I like it anyway? Yes, very much so.
Beauty and the Beast is in cinemas now across the UK. Image source: Movies.disney.co.uk