Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Beauty and the Beast a breathtaking watch

Published:Monday | March 20, 2017 | 3:00 AMDamian Levy
Josh Gad (left) as Le Fou and Luke Evans as Gaston in a scene from ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
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Disney's Beauty and the Beast is the latest animated classic to get the live action treatment. While some might see it as a soulless cash-in on nostalgia, others will revel in the chance to see a new spin on a tale as old as time.

I'm not offended by Disney's live action remakes. I see them as cinematic stage plays, giving new life to stories I once knew,

Beauty and the Beast is not the riskiest of remakes. Much of the film is a loving recreation of its source material. That love can be overbearing at times, as you sit in the cinema wondering what you're getting that you couldn't with the original. The places where it does make changes are a welcome break from its slavish adaptation, which is at best a touching reminder of what you once knew and, at worst, an embarrassing imitation.

The most consistent part of Beauty and the Beast is how stunning it is to look at, particularly the Beast's enchanted castle and all its inhabitants. The characters lose their animated charm, but gain an impressive amount of heart. When the objects talk of their lives before becoming furniture, it rings truer coming from what looks like a candlestick than a cartoon.

The translation isn't always effective. Most notably, Gaston, played by Luke Evans, whose larger-than-life character is underserved by Evans' humanity. That's not Evans' fault; it's just that there's no one quite like Gaston. Still, humanity is the key to this adaptation, as the film adds a touching connection to characters that, dare I say, improve upon the originals.

THE CHARACTERS

The main attractions are the Beauty, played by Emma Watson (Harry Potter), and the Beast, played by Dan Stevens (Legion). Watson carries the frustration of her character's plight beautifully and gives Belle admirable strength. Stevens gives the Beast the one thing he'd been missing - a character to care about. The remake does one thing remarkably well, giving the somewhat questionable romance an air of legitimacy.

Was Beauty and the Beast worth the admission price? I'm inclined to say yes. It'll take you back to how you felt the first time you watched it and put in a few new things to keep it feeling fresh.

Rating: Big Screen Watch