All show, no tell: Beauty and the Beast review by Rashid Irani | movie reviews | Hindustan Times
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All show, no tell: Beauty and the Beast review by Rashid Irani

Despite its A-list cast and nifty animation, Disney’s reboot is largely underwhelming.

movie reviews Updated: Mar 17, 2017 15:52 IST
Rashid Irani
Beauty and the Beast
Dan Stevens and Emma Watson star as the Beast and Belle, in a film whose real hero is the production design.


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.

Read: Alabama theatre bans Beauty and the Beast because it features a gay character

Emma Watson’s Belle is a voracious reader and the daughter of a music-box maker (played by veteran actor Kevin Kline). Sadly, she does not make for a very convincing heroine here.

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).

Luke Evans plays Gaston, a narcissistic soldier keen to have Belle as a trophy wife.

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).

The supporting cast of Ian McKellen (as mantel clock Cogsworth), Emma Thompson (Mrs Potts), Ewan McGregor (as a candelabra named Lumiere) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (as Plumette, the feather duster), is the saving grace of the film.

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