"boasting an impressive cast and memorable soundtrack and set pieces, Beauty And The Beast makes for a solid family film that'll become a firm Christmas favourite in years to come"
Beauty And The Beast is a Disney live-action remake of it's beloved original 1991 acclaimed animated outing of the same name. It's based on a French fairytale titled La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast), written originally by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve with publication in 1740. This was later abridged and rewritten by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont and published in 1756, becoming the more commonly known version of the fairytale.
The film tells the story of an arrogant Prince (Dan Stevens) who is transformed into hideous creature for his opulent and selfish ways, when he refuses to help an enchantress disguised as an old beggar, who offers him a rose in exchange for shelter in his castle from the bitter cold weather outside. The Prince now a Beast, must dwell within his cursed castle and kingdom until he finds true love and breaks away from his bonds of arrogance. The Beast has until the last petal falls from the enchanted rose given to him by the enchantress to learn to love and receive love from someone who is able to look beyond his monstrous appearance and see his inner beauty and humanity. If he fails to break the spell he will remain a Beast forever, and so will his castle and all who reside within its walls.
Emma Watson plays Belle, a non-conformist village girl who has a love of reading books and dreams of adventures beyond her village where she is misunderstood and ridiculed, she is supported by loving father Maurice (Kevin Kline), so her existence in the village isn't all bad.
To her dismay, she is pursued by the amorous advances of Gaston (Luke Evans), a vain and arrogant former soldier, now a hunter, Gaston is admired by the town's folk and desired by the women as a worthy suitor. However he has stated his love for Belle and that he wishes to marry her, but Belle offers no reciprocation and keeps turning down his advances. Gaston together with his trusted sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad) has decided that nothing will stand in his way in his pursuit to marry Belle.
Riding out of the village on his horse Phillipe, Maurice as always promises to bring his daughter Belle back a rose (since that is all she desires from his travels. On his journey back Maurice gets lost in the night woods and pursed by a pack of wolves before escaping and stumbling upon a hidden castle. Here he seeks shelter and help, but is frightened off. Leaving the castle grounds Maurice attempts to take a rose for Belle, but is confronted by the Beast and locked away for the "crime", leaving Phillipe to gallop back to the village.
Belle realising something is wrong and that Phillipe would not return without his master mounts the horse in pursuit of what's happened to her doting father. Arriving at the mysterious castle Belle searches for her father only to find him imprisoned and telling her to leave immediately for her own safety. In the shadows surrounding her father's cell the voice of the Beast cries out tell Belle her father is being held prisoner for stealing a rose. Upon being confronted by the creature as he exits the shadow she pleads with the unsympathetic Beast to let her father go. The Beast commands that someone must be held accountable for the theft. So under pretext of giving her father one last hug she steps into the cell, gives him a loving hug and against his wishes pushes her father out of the cell becoming the Beast's prisoner.
Maurice then returns to the village seeking help in rescuing his daughter. Meanwhile Belle is left contemplating in her cell what has just transpired when she is let out by Lumière (Ewan McGregor) a talking candelabra and Cogsworth (Ian McKellen) a talking mantel clock both of whom were transformed under the curse. Lumière formerly a butler and Cogsworth a chamberlain. Belle is shocked and delighted to discover other household guests and servants who are also now transformed. They encourage her to speak and dine with the Beast explaining how he is not what he seems to be.
Beauty And The Beast truly feels like the animated classic brought to life at times; and it is, it is essentially beat for beat, which isn't a bad thing, we know the story and that iss what they are giving us. The genius thing that Disney are doing with their classics, is to bring them to the attention of the new generation that haven't grown up with the animated classics.
The sets and animation almost overshadow the cast, and the film retains the songs from the original and follows the original plot and with the new songs thrown in, and Emma Watson, well add singer to the list of things that this young talent is capable of, she's incredible!
However, the film does feel a little too long coming in at an 129 minutes. The Beast as played by Dan Stevens is admirable but seems to have more character and depth as the Beast than as the Prince, admittedly we don't spend a huge chunk of time with the Prince, he isn't even mentioned by name, although we do know it is Prince Adam. Emma Watson is watchable as Belle, however you do feel like sometimes you're watching Emma Watson with it seeming at times that Belle is a part she has yet to completely grow in to. The rest of the ensemble cast bring enough to their respective characters to keep the entertainment following at a solid pace.
Overall, boasting an impressive cast and memorable soundtrack and set pieces, Beauty And The Beast makes for a solid family film that'll become a firm Christmas favourite in years to come.