And all the young men came too

Is there any real need for Disney to take its beloved animated fairy stories and turn them into live action dramas?

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Hattie Morahan, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Nathan Mack, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci
Rating: (PG) 
Four stars (out of five)

 

I am not convinced myself but there seem to be plenty of little girls who loved Beauty and the Beast and now as adults cannot wait to see Emma Watson’s take on Belle. I saw Beauty and the Beast (Rialto and Reading) with an audience that was strangely low on children and even more weirdly dotted with hipster young men who had not felt the need to bring a date. They were not the audience I would have predicted but they were as entranced as any more stereotypical Beauty and the Beast fans.

While Watson has been getting all the pre-release publicity for her feminist re-imagining of Bella’s wardrobe, the performance that drew me in was Dan Stevens as the motion-captured Beast. The movie starts with a quick recap on how the arrogant young prince is cursed, transformed into a beast until he can find someone to love and to love him back. It is such a lavish sequence that you would feel that you had had your money’s worth if it was all you saw, but Disney has another two hours lined up. They pass in a happy stew of cheerful village scenes, a brooding castle full of magical objects and a compassionate heroine willing to stand up to the beastly Beast.

It is not a movie that we needed, but now that we have it we are rather glad we do.

- Christine Powley

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