BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Direction: Bill Condon
Actors: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens
Rating: 2.5 / 5
It’s sumptuously designed, has some catchy tunes and an A-list cast voicing anthropomorphic household appliances.
Still, Disney’s live-action remake of its 1991 animated feature is, by and large, underwhelming.
Essentially a filigreed fantasy for millennials, Beauty and the Beast leaches the magic from the timeless fairytale.
In her latest incarnation, Beauty (Emma Watson) lives with her widowed father (old-timer Kevin Kline; dour) in a poor, provincial village. A voracious reader (of Shakespeare, no less), she’s determined to ensure that uneducated children learn to read as well.
Fate, however, intervenes and Beauty is held captive in the cavernous castle of a cursed prince-turned- Beast (Dan Stevens).
Even the uninitiated will be able to guess the rest of the plot.
Most of the scenes set in the village are extremely tedious, including the relentless wooing of Beauty by a narcissistic bully (Luke Evans).
It’s only when the action relocates to the castle that the viewer’s attention is held.
Director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) choreographs the musical numbers, including the show-stopping ‘Be our guest’, with considerable gusto.
The real spectacle is provided by the production design, courtesy Sarah Greenwood.
There’s enchantment to spare in the presentation of the singing, dancing candelabra (Ewan MacGregor), clock (Ian McKellen) and teapot (Emma Thompson, effervescent as ever).
Unfortunately, the climactic storming of the castle is as unexciting as could be. And Watson is hopelessly miscast as the feisty heroine.
There’s little that’s truly original in this Beauty and the Beast.
Watch the trailer for Beauty and the Beast here