Disney is determined to take every successful animated classic they've ever made and turn it into a live-action movie. Beauty and the Beast makes a pretty good argument that the Mouse House might be on to something. It really is as if the fairy tale characters were magically brought to life like we see happen in Enchanted.
Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the brute's hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside in Beauty and the Beast.
Director Bill Condon does what many thought was impossible by assembling a cast of wonderful actors that seem to have been born for the individual roles they've taken on for Beauty and the Beast. Dan Stevens' performance as the Beast is both charming and fierce as he reveals the complex emotions of the character. Emma Watson does a wonderful job being both a strong female lead and the damsel-in-distress when need be. I really enjoyed Stanley Tucci's bonkers portrayal of organ player Cadenza. It reminded me of an extension of his character in The Hunger Games series for some reason.
Everything from the costuming to the set designs for Beauty and the Beast are breathtaking. Taking an audience to a different time period is a difficult job to do. The production departments went above and beyond here to deliver beautifully crafted wardrobes and backgrounds for the director and actors to dance and perform within. All their efforts pay off as they help transport us to an elegant fairy tale world which we could only see in animated form before now.
Aside from some of the CGI here and there, I have no complaints to air when it comes to Beauty and the Beast. Some of the closeups of the Beast show the limitations artists haven't been able to overcome yet when it comes to computer animation. That being said, it's about as close to perfection as we can get.
I'm not a big fan of musicals, but the choreography and direction for Beauty and the Beast is flawless and beyond impressive. Everything from the ballroom dancing to tabletop romping is intricately executed. At the same time, the actors make it look effortless and somehow natural as they walk through a town holding a book or boastfully stomp around the inside of a tavern.
The Blu-ray edition of Beauty and the Beast takes us behind the scenes of the film with some fun bonus material. Featurettes include "A Beauty of a Tale", "The Women Behind Beauty and the Beast", "From Song to Screen: Making the Musical Sequences", and "Making a Moment with Celine Dion". We also get a "Beauty and the Beast" music video, "Making the Music" video, the "Enchanted Table Read", "Days in the Sun" extended song, deleted scenes, Song Selection, and more.
Beauty and the Beast is rated PG for some action violence, peril and frightening images. The live-action appearance of the Beast and the wolves in the forest will probably frighten younger viewers. There's a fight scene between them that gets pretty intense and graphic for a Disney fairy tale movie. It's the perfect example of how differently things translate in contrast between animation and live-action.
Beauty and the Beast came out June 6th, 2017. It was directed by Bill Condon. The cast includes Emma Watson, Dan Steven, Luke Evans, Emma Thompson, Josh Gad, and Kevin Kline. The running time is 129 minutes.
Beauty and the Beast is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and HD Digital.
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟 and a half