Review by J.T. Johnson
I must admit that before I watched this movie, I remembered very little about the classic 1991 animated film that “Beauty and the Beast” is based on. Even as a kid, this was just one Disney movie that wasn’t for me. I was a bigger fan of other Disney films such as “The Little Mermaid”. What can I say? I have a thing for redheads.
Therefore, when I went into this movie, I decided that while I would look at the film from a technical point-of-view, I would gauge the audience’s reaction to the story. As it turns out, that wasn’t necessary and that old school Disney magic worked on me as much as it did on everyone else in the audience. It is a wonderfully enchanting film that, as far as I could tell, faithfully recreated the love story from the 1991 original.
Again, that’s not really a comparison. Like I said before, I can’t really remember the original too well, but from the songs that I heard and what little else I could remember, it felt like they got more right than wrong. Speaking of the songs, I felt that last year’s “The Jungle Book” shed most of its musical skin except for the hits such as “The Bare Necessities”.
“Beauty and the Beast” fully embraces its musical heritage and at several moments throughout the movie, people were breaking out into song and dance. I mention this because if you are not a fan of musicals, then this may not be for you. Thankfully, I am a fan of a good musical and this film handles its various musical set pieces almost flawlessly.
The cast is absolutely stellar, especially Emma Watson as Belle. I honestly believe that this is one of her best performances as a young woman who loves to read and may just be different enough from others around her in order to see the man under the Beast. Dan Stevens is also pretty great as the Beast. Yes, he is a special-effect through most of the movie, but under the effects is a man who had to dance on stilts and wear a heavy muscle suit, so kudos to him as well.
The supporting cast, which mostly consists of various objects in the Beast’s castle, is also spectacular. In particular, Ewan McGregor as Lumière and Ian McKellen as Cogsworth standout the most and little Chip (Nathan Mack) is just freakin’ adorable. Beyond the computer characters and Watson’s Belle, there are also several live-action characters that do spectacular jobs.
Luke Evans is a great antagonist as the narcissistic Gaston and while he plays the role for laughs at times, you definitely know who the true beast is by the film’s climax. Kevin Kline is also good as Belle’s caring father and there’s a nice backstory concerning his character which is pretty heartfelt. Finally, Josh Gad as LeFou is a also a great sidekick to Gaston who is always a good friend to Gaston but never gets the love he wants in return.
I was honestly surprised by how much I fell into this movie. The musical numbers are fantastic and the love story feels real between the movie’s two leads. The production design is top-notch and the special-effects are almost flawless. Judging by the size of the audience I was with when I saw the movie, it looks like Disney will once again make all the money. The good news is that they’ve earned every penny!