‘Beauty And The Beast’ is the latest live-action re-imagining from Disney, who (as with their recent ‘Jungle Book’) seem to be steadily re-releasing their animation back catalogue with real-life actors for a modern audience.
In its lead role Emma Watson brings an unvarnished quality as Belle, a country lass whose appetite for life and adventure marks her out from her country neighbours. Yearning for escape, as hinted at in the books she reads, she fends off the narcissistic advances of Luke Evans, a handsome dandy whose appetites are increasingly pricked by her rebuttals.
Sympathising with Belle’s frustrations, Kevin Kline brings endearment in the role of Belle’s father. After setting out for market one day, he falls victim to wolves in the forest. Seeking sanctuary in an old deserted castle, his disappearance forces Belle to seek him out, but in doing so she entwines her fate to that of his and the castle’s mysterious occupant.
With polished CGI and a swift narrative,’Beauty And The Beast’ doesn’t dwell on its song and dance numbers.
With polished CGI and a swift narrative,’Beauty And The Beast’ doesn’t dwell on its song and dance numbers. Boasting a notable cast of famous faces, everyone can be heard amiably singing and swooping their way through the songs and the storyline. In addition to this, using Disney’s stock-in-trade chorus of minor characters, their voices offer adults “can-you-guess-who-it-is” entertainment whilst the CGI slapstick entertains the kids. However as an epic romance there’s something missing here: fire.
Whilst ‘Beauty And The Beast’ ticks all your expectations, it never really exceeds them. Here is a fairytale solidly told, but surprise and invention are seemingly ugly sisters who were never invited to the party. This is because, by comparison, ‘Beauty And The Beast’ is dogged by a much larger shadow – that of its identically-titled animated forebear. In 1991 Disney’s ‘Beauty And The Beast’ ecstatically threw open the doors to invention and here, with all its new CGI tools at its disposal, this 2017 live-action remake is a pale reflection of its former’s ambition.
Not to be misunderstood, 2017’s live-action ‘Beauty And The Beast’ will work fine as chocolate confection when the holiday TV schedule comes round. However overshadowed by its former animation classic, this new version will probably fail to weave a new spell over a new generation.