Bill Condon has directed this two hours and nine minutes long Disney live action adaptation of their 1991 animated feature film, which again was based on “La Belle et la Bête”, a traditional fairy tale written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and published in 1740.
The animated film was one of the first Disney films to use CAPS (Computer Animation Production System), a digital scanning, ink, paint, and compositing system of software and hardware developed for Disney by Pixar, and to me it was the one that marked the loss of quality in animated Disney films. Since “Beauty and the Beast”, none of Disney’s feature films have been as magic as for instance “Snow White”, “Pinocchio” or “Peter Pan” where everything was hand-drawn, but that’s another story.
This new version of “Beauty and the Beast” fixes some of the problems from the animated film such as the time line and why the villagers are not aware of the castle nearby, but all in all it sticks to the animated film rather than to the original story.
As for the music, I’m still not overly fond of the songs apart from “Be Our Guest” and the title song “Beauty and the Beast”, but as it’s a musical, I endure it. Much worse is the filming; especially when the camera makes 360° panning! Then everything gets fuzzy and blurred and you can’t focus on anything. It looks awful, to be honest.
As for the actors, Emma Watson plays Belle (the Beauty), which really shows that she was wrongly casted in Harry Potter where Hermione is supposed to be no beauty with frizzy, untamable hair and protruding teeth. At least Hermione and Belle has the love for books in common.
Dan Stevens plays the Beast, so now we know what poor cousin Matthew from Downton Abbey was up to in a previous life! Of other major parts, there are Belle’s father Maurice (Kevin Kline), the narcissistic Gaston (Luke Evans), his sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad) and all the enchanted servants: Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), Lumière (Ewan McGregor), Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson), Chip (Nathan Mack), Madame Garderobe (Audra McDonald) and Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci).
None of the actors are particularly memorable except for Josh Gad as LeFou who is gay in this version. This is the first Disney-character to be openly gay and that’s about time, in my opinion. Now we only need a heroine with frizzy hair and protruding teeth…
Anyway, I read somewhere that the film has been banned in Malaysia and that you have to be over sixteen to see it in Russia because of LeFou, but the censorship that PG-rates films here in Denmark where I live didn’t even noticed that LeFou is gay! It’s not in your face in the film, but only hinted at, especially in the closing scene.
I don’t get why everyone is so worked up over LeFou being a homosexual anyway, especially when the zoophilia-aspect of the film doesn’t raise an eyebrow. So it’s okay for a woman to fall in love with a beast, but not for a man to like other men? Talk about double morale standards! Tut-tut!
I’ve always wondered why Disney’s Beast looks the way he does, by the way, as most of the early drawings to the original French fairy tale suggest that he resembles a wild boar. But maybe making out with a pig would be too much for the double moralists after all! In any case, Emma Watson is perfect for the role as in an interview she let slip that her childhood crush was the lion Aslan from C. S. Lewis’ chronicles of Narnia!
All in all, this new version of “Beauty and the Beast” is a nice, clean, cosy family film, but to be honest, I don’t think there’s a need to make Disney’s animated feature films into live action films as they don’t really add anything or make them better. Therefore, I’m not able to give “Beauty and the Beast” more than three out of five stars: ***