By Christopher Reynoso
Disney’s live action adaptation of the classic story “Beauty and the Beast” lived up to the hype surrounding it on its release Friday.
As one of Disney’s long-time animated favorites, there was quite a bit to live up to for this modern day remake.
While being an overall good film, there is no real reason to compare it to the classic. It is a thing all its own. Starring Emma Watson ( the Harry Potter series) as Belle and Dan Stevens (Legion) as the Beast, the film takes place in the small French village Villeneuve.
Once the movie finds its legs, when Belle switches places with her father at the castle, it really starts sprinting. From that moment it becomes a nonstop ride with all the magic that people have come to expect from Disney’s take on fairytales.
The film opens to a grand ball being thrown by a vain prince. During the course of the ball a storm forces an old woman to seek shelter at the prince’s castle, but he rudely turns her away.
The woman turns out to be an enchantress who curses the prince and his staff, which sets up the plot for the rest of the film. The beast is cursed unless he can find true love before all the petals on an enchanted rose fall.
This is where Belle, the beauty, enters the picture. She goes looking for her father and discovers that he has been imprisoned by the beast for stealing a rose. Being the heroine of the story, she tricks her father and takes his place as the beast’s prisoner.
Belle is given run of the castle by the staff, which have all been turned into household items by the curse, particularly a candelabra named Lumière, voiced by Ewan McGregor, who hopes that Belle and the beast will fall in love and break the curse. Luke Evan’s introduction as the villain, Gaston, is the first good moment in the film.
He immediately steals that scene, and every scene he stars in thereafter. Watson took a little longer to feel really comfortable in the role. The first 20 minutes of the film all seemed a bit forced, like the director forced the actors into playing out his vision exactly, rather than guiding them to give the best, most natural, performance.
Gaston is the only thing that stood out from this portion of the film. Dan Stevens’ turn as the Beast, all done in motion capture, is surprisingly captivating.
His performance took the audience from unwary caution to absolutely falling in love with him. The set design and costuming of this film is entirely above and beyond, and will definitely be winning some awards next February. The film is all so vibrant and real that it pulls more than its weight and makes this fairytale come to life, and differentiates this adaption from the animated classic.
The music is of course great, though there were times when it felt forced and out of place, specifically the first song at the beginning. Overall this film is definitely an achievement in filmmaking and really impressive considering its pedigree.
Watson charms as Belle, Stevens’ terrifies and captivates as the Beast and Evans makes the skin crawl as Gaston, just the way it should be. The film is out nation-wide and is rated PG.