<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Bill Condon. Starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad and some more great actors/singers but I won’t spoil it by letting out their names here.
Running time: 2 hours 9 minutes
Bringing the magic of the theatre and the mastery of cinema together, Disney has created an epic musical with Beauty and the Beast.
From the moment the film starts you know you’re in for a treat. There’s beautiful imagery, ostentatious sets, lovely characters, lovely music and Broadway-quality singing. Those who thought La La Land deserved all those over-hyped accolades should hang their heads in shame and go watch this. Then you’ll know what a real ‘musical’ is! La La Land for an Oscar! Please! Thank god Moonlight won it.
Just before the film I was bemoaning the constant barrage of remakes we are getting. Kong: Skull Island was the most recent back to the beginning tale we had to be subjected to. We know the origin stories by heart now. But with Beauty and the Beast we don’t mind being taken back to this tale as old as time. Little surprises and three new made-for-movie songs added keep things fresh.
And from the get-go we know this is going to be a musical. Like a real one. Like The Sound of Music musical – in fact they even have a scene with Belle (Emma Stone) singing atop a hill that is reminiscent of the Julie Andrews classic.
Belle is the ‘funny’ girl of a provincial French village. She’s the only one who likes to read voraciously, that is, when she’s not helping her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) put together intricate little art pieces. ‘Oh, haven’t seen him in a while,’ you say when Kline appears on screen. And it is a true delight to watch him. In no way is he a supporting character. Maurice is the one who raised Belle to be the fine, intelligent, proud and strong woman she is. This comes in handy when the Beast imprisons him in his hidden castle in the woods and she has to save him. That backstory of the Beast is also very interesting as it shows us change and provides an interest value in this character.
Instead of telling you the rest of the whole story let me just tell you how Beauty and the Beast made me feel. It made me smile. It made me leave the cinema happy and fulfilled that magic at the movies isn’t dead and that perhaps – unlike with La La Land – Hollywood can get a musical film right, the way they did it in the good old days.
My 3D Imax glasses were moist by the end of the film. Speaking of the end, while it may seem like the same old story and you may have thought of a different outcome in your head just to mix things up a bit, it doesn’t really take away from the film. By the way, it’s far more visually spectacular than an animated film would be. And the CGI is top notch here. Even the Beast is so real and appealing that you almost wish he’d stay that way forever. Perhaps the prince can grow a beard!
I know all the women are going to be lining up for this film but it is truly a movie for every musical lover, every romantic and child at heart, for the dreamer and the lover of cinema that will make you laugh, cry and love again.
PS: Yes there’s a much talked about gay angle in there too with a hilarious song or two to go with it. Disney is evolving by leaps and bounds and the result is going to be a lot more beautiful filmmaking.