Yesterday I was invited to the press screening of the new Disney live action movie “Beauty and the Beast“. The movie releases to the general public on 17 Mach 2017. Walking out all I could think was “WOW!”. This movie is everything the animated version was and so much more!
General First Impressions
I would give the movie 9 out 10 stars.
The live action movie follows the animated movie very closely. It has been a little bit since I saw the animated version, but I didn’t notice anything missing from the original. The live action version has a few extra scenes that the animated version didn’t which adds to the backstory and helps explain the families different situations – why Belle didn’t have a mother and where the Prince’s family was. I really thought the scenes were an excellent addition and gave Belle and the Beast/Prince a chance to better understand one another as they built their relationship.
Emma Watson plays our dear “Belle”, the misunderstood heroine of the film. I felt Emma was a great choice for this role. Her singing was lovely in all of the familiar songs and her acting style was familiar and perfect for this role. She connects with all of the characters in such a way you can really feel the love or the loathing.
Kevin Klein plays “Maurice”, her father. I have always been a big fan of his and I felt he really brought a strong sense of love and warmth into the film. That love has always grounded Belle, and allows her to fall in love with someone who has been deemed unlovable. He is very sympathetic and vulnerable in this role and I loved him.
The Beast is played by the wonderful Dan Stevens, who you might remember as Matthew Crawley from “Downton Abbey”. I honestly didn’t recognize him and only realized it was him when I saw the ending credits! He was just that good in this role and was absolutely everything I expected from the Beast – fierce and awful at the beginning and then softer and kind at the end. You could see the same change in his eyes that you saw in the animated movie.
Gaston, played by Luke Evans, was the real life embodiment of his animated predecessor – it was crazy! He was everything Gaston should be and a bit more. We see the war has gotten to him, or maybe it is the provincial life that has. He still has the same arrogance and confidence we have come to expect of this man. Josh Gad plays his man servant Le Fou and he also acts somewhat of an ignored conscience to Gaston by questioning his acts. He is hilarious as Le Fou and towards the end you really start to cheer for him. Gaston though – not so much!
The rest of the cast which include the castle staff are equally as wonderful and are all names we are familiar with. Emma Thompson is wonderful as Mrs. Potts, Sir Ian McKellen and Ewan MacGregor are wonderful as Cogsworth and Lumiere. They bring a lot of humor to the castle. Stanley Tucci and Audra McDonald are the musical duo Garderobe and Cadenza and Gugu Mbatha-Raw is Plumette who is Lumiere’s love interest. Chip is quite adorable too. Everyone fits their roles so completely and I can not imagine anyone else playing these characters. I will be honest though, I was worried about Angela Landsbury, a childhood favorite of mine, being replaced, but Emma Thompson knocks it out of the park. I honestly feel like these actors stayed true to the story yet added a little more personality and life to the whole movie. My skepticism was unwarranted. It is all fresh and yet familiar.
I really loved this movie and it surpassed my expectations. I was a little worried about a live action movie after always loving the original. I wasn’t sure it would measure up. The music was wonderful and the new songs that have been added compliment the original soundtrack perfectly. The costumes are wonderfully colorful and bright and scenes are beautiful. Cinematography and the CGI effects were also very good and felt seamless.
There are so many things that make movies uniquely Disney and those qualities were evident in this movie too. The “Be Our Guest” scene had me flashing back to Fantasia for instance, and just the overall magic of the film in all of it’s beauty could really only be Disney. I have mentioned before that I am not really much of a “princess movie” person. “Moana” is my favorite due to her tenacity, strength, and overall gusto. Belle is my second favorite though. She is smart and goes against the grain. While she allows herself to be taken “prisoner” in exchange for her father, all of her choices are her own and she takes responsibility for them. She also loves super hard and that is to be commended…however if you don’t deserve her love she walks away. There is a lot of self respect and confidence there that I really appreciate.
I highly recommend this film. My son thinks it very unfair that “his whole family” (aka his mom and dad) went to this movie without him so we will be seeing it again so he can check it out too. To whet your palate, here is the US movie trailer for you!
The movie runs 2 hours and opens to the general public on 17 March! Check it out!
Disclaimer: I was given access to the movie free of charge. I am not required to leave a positive review. I genuinely loved this movie! All photos are used with permission – © Disney. All rights reserved.