Review: Beauty and the Beast (★★★★)

By Jennifer Constable, Editor-in-Chief (@Peculiar_Jenny)

It’s just gone 10am on a Friday Morning, and screen 7 of the Renfrew Street Cineworld is buzzing with a tangible air of excitement and anticipation. For an early morning showing, the cinema is fairly packed with a demographic of which encompasses mostly giddy, pre-school aged children, and two inconspicuous 21 year-olds.  All with equally high expectations for the film they’re about to see.

A re-telling of the 1992 animated Disney classic, for the past year, the 2017 live action ‘Beauty and the Beast’, as directed by Bill Condon, has received a lot of hype, both in the press and on social media; from the offset, it’s had a lot to live up to, and has faced the often insurmountable challenge of competing with it’s predecessor, who many fans hold deep nostalgic loyalty for.

The plot doesn’t stray too far from that of the 1990s Disney animation that we’re so used to, but explores some of the loose ends left untouched in the original film- what happened to Belle’s mother and what had made the Prince so obnoxious in his past life prior to his transformation into the Beast? These added extras, in my opinion, give the story more substance and make for a more sophisticated telling of a well-loved classic.

The live action remake achieves the aim of appealing to lovers of the original fairy-tale, while also targeting a new, younger audience, with enough special effects and subtle plot variations to take the age-old story to new cinematic heights.

From a visual aspect, the film is cinematically beautiful and a real joy to behold, with dazzling colours that give even the most iconic scenes a fresh take (those of you who remember the magnificent library shot will know what I mean).
Also, the CGI effects on the Beast are phenomenal, taking a two dimensional buffalo type creature and morphing him into a 3D, fluffy monster, with the seductive voice (and yes, it’s okay to fancy the Beast in his furry state of being).

For me, Emma Watson made the perfect Belle; just the right combination of wanderlust-filled dreamer with enough feistiness to bring her into a 21st century version of what a heroin should be. While every character was uniquely charming in their own way, it was the comedy duo of Luke Evans and Josh Gad in their roles of Gaston and LeFou who stole the show for me

From a musical perspective, the movie score was exceptional. With enough of the classic songs used so you recognised it as an extension of the beloved animation, but the right amount of added extras to make it that bit more interesting. In particular, Dan Stevens’ ‘Evermore’ does a good job of tugging at the heartstrings (check it out on Spotify if you have time).

I’ve heard critics of Beauty and the Beast nit-pick at the remake for being too “twee” or “sentimental”, or even for being “anti-feminist”, and to these critics I say; “get over yourself”. Literally, learn to enjoy your life. We need to remember the story in the context of the time- its not modern fiction. It’s impossible to take every aspect of the film’s plot at face value because it’s literally fantasy- it’s not real. It’s not based on real events. We need to take the content with a pinch of salt

Yes it does somewhat serve to perpetuate the manic-pixie-dream-girl trope, but at the end of the day, it’s a old fairy-tale, and to completely rework the plot would be to change the fundamentals of what made the story so iconic in the first place. Instead of making issues in a film, which has done a commendable job adapting on a classic, a feat so rarely achieved, we should applaud Condon for what he’s managed to do; take a ‘tale as old as time’ successfully into the 21st century.