Beauty and the Beast: Film Review

Directed by Bill Condon (Chicago; Mr. Holmes; The Fifth Estate; The Twilight Saga) and starring Emma Watson (Harry Potter…; The Colony; Noah; The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Luke Evans (The Girl on the Train; High-Rise; The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies; Fast & Furious 6), Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings; The Hobbit; Mr. Holmes; X-Men: Days of Future Past; The Golden Compass; The Da Vinci Code), Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility; The Remains of the Day; Love Actually, Nanny McPhee), Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey (tv series); Night at the Museum 3; The Fifth Estate), Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting; Star Wars; Our Kind of Traitor; Salmon Fishing in the Yemen; Angels & Demons; The Island), Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda; The Pink Panther; Cry Freedom; Fierce Creatures) and Josh Gad (Frozen; The Angry Birds Movie; The Internship).

Family fantasy adventure, 129 mins, 6+

Set in a small town in France, Belle (Emma Watson) lives with her father, Maurice (Kevin Kline) and is an intelligent, carefree yet fearless character who loves reading and has a loving personality. Of course there is the villian / ruffian in the village who wants Bella for himself, but she wants noting to do with Gaston (Luke Evans), a soldier, and his side-kick LeFou (Josh Gad). One day her father does not return from the market and she goes out in search for him, discovering a castle hidden from the world and hiding a dark secret.

A live-action remake of the 1991 animated classic, this Disney production has divied the critics, with many panning the close-up CGI in particular. Nevertheless, this film is a wonderful escape into fantasy in which the musical score carries the audience, both young and old alike, on a journey for which there can really be only one, inevitable outcome, one of the “happily ever after” variety. Along the way, however, the audience is treated to a myriad of characters, both in the village and in the castle itself, not to mention the primary characters themselves. Straight from the opening scene involving high-tempo singing anf dancing, it is the colour of the village and villagers which create a platform from which the story evolves.

The fairy tale continues with Belle finding her father and meeting the Beast (Dan Stevens) and discovering the numerous characters who inhabit the crumbling castle, including Lumière (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) and many others besides. While they know the background to their current state – humans trapped in this fantasy world – they know deep down that they cannot let Belle know that the prince had been cursed and monstrously deformed and cannot nbe released from the spell until someone loves him.

Belle initially resists the Beast’s aggression and demands, and discovers the castle’s massive library of books, a love for which they both share. By reading they come closer. Yet she manages to escape the castle and his clutches, but is trapped by the wolves which live deep in the forest; The Beast comes to her rescue and then she has to care for him when he is wounded, and so on…

This is certainly a film for all the family, featuring a young heroine and a typical underlying message about love not being superficial