BEAUTY & THE BEAST (PG)
D: Bill Condon
Disney/Mandeville (David Hoberman & Todd Lieberman)
USA 🇺🇸 2017
W: Stephen Chbosky & Evan Spiliotopolous [based on the 1991 screenplay by Linda Woolverton & the fairytale by Jean-Marie LePrince du Beaumont]
DP: Tobias A. Schleissler
Ed: Virginia Katz
Mus: Alan Menken; Tim Rice & Howard Ashman
PD: Sarah Greenwood
Cos: Jacqueline Durran
Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Stevens (The Beast / The Prince), Luke Evans (Gaston), Kevin Kline (Maurice), Josh Gad (LeFou), Ewan McGregor (Lumiere), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Stanley Tucci (Cadenza), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts)
Disney studios seem to be quite content churning out live action version of their famous animated classics, with Alice In Wonderland, Cinderella and The Jungle Book all having big budget makeovers, to varied effect.
The 1991 version of Beauty & The Beast made history by being the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, so to say that this live action update had big shoes to fill is an understatement.
Visually, the film ticks all the right boxes, with outstanding production design, costumes and visual effects which really bring the fantasy world to life, but aside from the technical aspects the rest of the film is a bit of a disappointment, failing to have creative licence with the material in the same way some of the studio's other adaptations have and settles on being a practical shot-by-shot update with occasional moments being a little more family-friendly. All the famous songs from the 1991 film are reinvigorated with live action choreography, but it's really just the same song and dance.
The real issue with the film is the casting, particularly Emma Watson, whose performance as Belle is far too preciously smug to make the character enchanting, elegant and overwhelmed by her whole experience. Everyone else from the ensemble is fine, but their characters are underwritten to allow Belle to have the lion's share of the screen-time.
Disney enthusiasts will enjoy this more than Joe Public, but even the most ardent Disneyphile would agree that the animated classic is head and shoulders above this. It just feels a little too corporate and safe.