Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Movie with Abe: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast
Directed by Bill Condon
Released March 17, 2017

Disney’s original “Beauty and the Beast,” the company’s thirtieth animated feature and the first of its format ever to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, was a huge hit when it was released back in 1991. The themes of inner beauty and emphasis on acting kindly and treating everyone with respect were amplified by a delightful and creative house full of former servers transformers into animated objects singing songs. It should probably come as a surprise that it took nearly three decades to adapt it into a live-action musical, one that was a predictable success even if its existence isn’t entirely necessary.

A cruel and egotistical prince (Dan Stevens) is turned into a beast by a witch to teach him a lesson about his behavior and isolated from the world until a man named Maurice (Kevin Kline) happens upon his castle and tries to steal a rose. Alarmed at her father’s disappearance, the unique, educated Belle (Emma Watson) comes to find him and takes his place as the beast’s prisoner. When Belle’s overzealous suitor Gaston (Luke Evans) learns of this beast, he sets out to kill the creature and once and for all compel the uninterested recipient of his affection to marry him.

This is merely the latest translation of a classic animated Disney film to a live-action format, following “The Jungle Book” last year, and considering the incredible box office take, it’s sure not to be the last. This colorful movie does its best to mimic the magic of the original film and its boundless showcase of its scenery, using landscapes, set decoration, and visual effects to create a stunning environment. Its Oscar nominations for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design are well-deserved, and all the aesthetics of this adaptation are commendable and contribute to a cohesive graphic experience.

Watson, who gained fame for her role as a smart bookworm in the “Harry Potter” film series, is an extremely logical choice to play Belle, who is considered odd by all she encounters and stands out from the rest of the people in her village due to her love of reading and desire to see the world. The relationship she forms with the Beast, played by Dan Stevens, who established himself as a heartthrob on “Downton Abbey,” feels genuine, aided by Stevens’ layered performance. Supporting turns from Ewan McGregor as Lumière, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts are delightful and extremely entertaining. As a whole, the film takes some time to get started, but ultimately it proves to be an enjoyable experience pleasing both the eyes and the ears.


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