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Blending CGI razzle-dazzle with Broadway pizzazz, Disney has given its beloved 1991 animated movie Beauty and the Beast a glossy live-action remake. Sticking very closely to the cartoon original, Dreamgirls director Bill Condon delivers the tale with unblushing gusto, ramping up the spectacle at every opportunity and turning the big musical numbers into routines worthy of Busby Berkeley.
At times, the film’s flamboyance gets too much. Everything is so showy, so overblown, that watching certain scenes becomes exhausting. Yet somehow the performances don’t get swamped. Emma Watson, giving plucky heroine Belle more than a touch of Hogwart’s bookworm Hermione (opens in new tab), pulls off the feat of being both feisty and winsome; Dan Stevens’ spellbound Beast is suitably gruff; and Luke Evans makes a hilariously hissable cad as Belle’s unwelcome suitor Gaston. Meanwhile, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson provide amusing support as the enchanted castle’s singing-and-dancing household objects.
Certificate PG. Runtime 129 mins. Director Bill Condon
Beauty and the Beast available on Blu-ray & DVD from Monday 17 July from Walt Disney Studios.
A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.
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