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Beauty and the Beast


Stars: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Hattie Morahan, Audra McDonald, Haydn Gwynne

Director: Bill Condon

Can this really be the same 1991 animated marvel that proved to be one of Disney's best (if not the best) cartoon feature ever? Deafeningly over-scored, this Broadway-style musical fantasy version copies the plot, but misses out on the magic.

The film starts stickily and, when Watson's Belle rushes up to the hills beyond the village in her blue and white dirndl you almost expect her to break into The Sound of Music. But the Watson girl can sing all right, in steady, bell-like tones, and she is by far the best thing in a a treatment that comes on too strong in almost every department, flattening the charm and wit of the original.

And yet chunks of it still do work, often thanks to Watson's sincerity. And the singing is all pretty good, from Dan Stevens' Beast, through Evans' impossibly egotistical Gaston, to Thompson's Mrs Potts, even though, overdoing the cockney wheedling, she isn't a patch on Angela Lansbury.

Apart from sone slightly iffy wolves, the film looks great, too, the camera moves (perhaps too giddily at times) to belie the staginess, and the odd good line still raises a smile. 'You rest your case on the word of this old offence Agatha,' bellows Evans, consigning Belle's dad (Kline) to the local asylum. Gaston is, of course, the unwanted suitor, as Belle discovers and gradually befriends the Beast in his lonely castle, surrounded only by servants, cursed like himself, and turned into talking clocks, teapots, candelabra and the like. See this for the singing, then, but treasure the irreplaceable original.

David Quinlan

USA 2017. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Colour (unspecified).
127 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 12 Mar 2017