Hollywood has been relentless in its delivery of remakes and reboots in recent years, and through all the resistance and hype, only one question really matters: does it improve upon the original?
In the case of Bill Condon’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, the answer is a resounding yes.
Starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, the film utilises the best of the 1991 original, while incorporating new flavours, script and story improvements, and a more proactive Belle. The same story still exists, but it’s fleshed out with more information on the titular characters’ families, and their lives today. Belle, for example, has always been a brilliant loner, but this script puts more emphasis on her fellow villagers actively opposing this, attempting to oppress her creativity and desire to share knowledge.
Emma Watson is utterly magnificent as Belle, and perfectly embodies this strong-willed fighter who is way beyond her time. Her voice is beautiful, and fans can be rest assured that she does each song justice, including my personal favourite, “Belle” (the reprise).
If we are going to talk about scene stealers though, Luke Evans takes the cake as Gaston. From his powerhouse voice to his unique ability to portray arrogance like it’s lived with him his whole life, Evans is one you can’t take your eyes off, and has a natural talent for musicals.
The four new songs fit in comfortably with the film, and Dan Stevens, in my opinion, gets to sing the best one (Evermore). It’s a rousing, heartbreaking number, and allows audiences a glimpse into the Beast’s soul during a crucial moment.
Of all the impressive set pieces, songs, and performances, perhaps most deserving of praise is Jacqueline Durran, who designed the film’s costumes. The iconic yellow dress was in good hands here, and is mesmerising on the big screen.
Beauty and the Beast is a faithful adaptation with just the right amount of dazzling additions. A must-see for old fans, and a new generation of bookworms who, like Belle, can’t resist a good story.
Image: Walt Disney Pictures