movie film review | chris tookey

Beauty and the Beast

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  Beauty and the Beast Review
Tookey's Rating
10 /10
Average Rating
6.06 /10
Emma Watson , Dan Stevens, Gerard Horan
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Directed by: Bill Condon
Written by: Steven Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos , songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman

Released: 2017
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US/ UK
Length: 129

A determined, bookish girl (Emma Watson) tried to rescue her kidnapped inventor father (Kevin Kline) from a monster (Dan Stevens) living in an enchanted castle.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Film critics are rarely less reliable than when they are reviewing musicals. Just look at the contumely they heaped on Into The Woods. Thanks to the mealy-mouthed critical reception in March 2017 to this live-action remake of one of my favourite cartoons, I expected very little when I sat down to watch it, three months later. I anticipated a cynical commercial exercise aimed at placating Disney shareholders with a sure-fire hit. I was more than pleasantly surprised. This is far from the shot-to-shot remake that critics accused it of being; itís an excellent musical, very well sung and acted, with terrific production values. In some ways, it improves on the already excellent original.

The orchestrations and production numbers are bigger and more lavish than ever, but thatís not at the expense of nuance and humanity. With the help of a delightfully transparent central performance by Emma Watson, director Bill Condon finds new depth and emotional richness in the familiar story. He even adds in a few canny references to other musicals that critics hated (notably, The Sound of Music). There are brave attempts to repair the plot-holes in the original, with explanations of how The Beast and Gaston became the brutish characters that they are. Although the new film runs 45 minutes longer than the cartoon, I never thought it flagged.

Luke Evans makes a fabulously egocentric Gaston, distinctly darker and more homicidal than the cartoon original, and Josh Gad - as Gastonís sycophantic friend - generates a lot of laughs as Disneyís first, unambiguously gay character. Another first for live-action Disney is the interracial romance between Stanley Tucciís Cadenza and Audra McDonaldís Madame de Garderobe. This may sound like political correctness, but within the movie it comes across as good-heartedness and generosity of spirit.

Itís the kind of musical that would make perfect Christmas-day viewing for all the family. Itís full of nostalgia, love and joy. It has the fairytale magic of the original, and adds a few good human touches of its own. The songs are terrific, and brilliantly staged by choreographer Anthony van Laast. Donít be put off by the reviews. See it.

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