This tale as old as time is pretty loyal to 1991's iconic animated musical. A curse is cast upon a vain prince (played by Dan Stevens, The Guest) and his castle, where he'll remain a beast unless he can find true love before the last rose petal falls. On the other side of the land, lives the kind-hearted and inquisitive Belle (Emma Watson). When her father is taken prisoner by The Beast, she exchanges places with him and is left stranded in the castle (kinda creepy). But could she be the one to break thee spell?
One thing that sorely sticks out about this film is the hammy acting. It's as if the human cast haven't diverged from the cartoony form of the characters--especially Luke Evans' Gaston and his sidekick (played by Josh Gad) who's almost too annoying to bear. The whole rendition is cloaked in a layer of melodramatic cheese, and even if you write it off as stagey fantasy, there are a lot of things you really have to let fly. I mean, this is a story about a young woman who falls in love with a horned creature within a couple days (I say "a couple days" as if somehow a couple months would be better). At its surface, it's an inherently odd premise, one that you might question more-so now then when you watched the film as a kid. And even though the heart of the main point is metaphorical--"don't judge a book by its cover", and that "beauty is found within", it seemed to work a lot better in its original animated setting. As for the rendering of The Beast, he looks a bit too computerized and it isn't fully convincing against the backdrop.
I know this all sounds harsh, which is why I'm getting to the high points now. The visual grandiosity and ominous atmosphere of the castle is very impressive. Then there's the fan-favorite anthropomorphic objects with their quirky personalities and great voice cast: Lumiére (Ewan McGregor) the candlestick, Cogsworth the clock (Ian McKellen), Mrs. Potts the teapot (Emma Thompson), and her son Chip the teacup (Nathan Mack). But it's the songs that really are the film's strongest feature--from the elaborate "Be Our Guest" sequence that dazzles to the ceiling, to the classically stirring melody of the title song, to the new addition of the soaring "Evermore" which arrives during The Beast's major point of despair, feeling like a theatrical emo anthem.
So, this remake didn't completely win me over, but I did get swept away in its spell a few times.
( 6.5/10 )
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