It’ hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the Disney animated version of Beauty and the Beast burst on the scene in 1991. Patrick, Katie, Diane, and I all loved it. The music was fun. A few years later, we all went to Toronto to see the musical version of Beauty and the Beast on the stage. Again, very entertaining! So I approached this live-action movie version with some trepidation. The original animated version was 84 minutes. This live-action movie is 129 minutes. Would it just be filler?
The answer is yes…and no. The movie provides some backstory to Belle and her family as well as an explanation of the Beast’s troubled past. Some of the musical numbers go on a little too long for my taste. And the Beast’s castle is a little too dark. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what’s going on in the shadows. But Emma Watson is fine as Belle. Dan Stevens (who I really like in LEGION) transforms into a marvelous, cantankerous Beast. Luke Evans plays a narcissistic, brutish Gaston to perfection. And, behind the CGI characters there are the voices of Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Ewan McGregor (Lumière), and Ian McKellen (Cogsworth). This movie includes three new songs (mostly forgettable) and a scary scene with wolves that might frighten younger children. All in all, I can recommend this new live-action movie of Beauty and the Beast. There’s enough newish story here to hold your interest. GRADE: B+