Disney’s live action telling of Beauty and the Beast has grossed more in one weekend than the animated film to date.
Beauty and the Beast is the latest in Disney’s long list of animated films to be adapted for live action, and there have been no shortage of bums on seats in theatres around the globe for opening weekend. Estimates indicate that the glitzy retelling of the story has grossed in the region of $350 million worldwide to date.
As with Cinderella and the Jungle Book, Disney has taken one of its beloved animations and created a big-budget live action retelling.
Beauty and the Beast requires little build up. A conceited prince refuses shelter to a frail old hag who turns out to be a beautiful enchantress. The prince is turned into a hideous Beast (Dan Stevens) who can only break the spell should he learn to love and be loved in return. Enter Belle (Emma Watson), an educated and kind girl. You know how it ends.
Moralistically Disney hits all the right notes with a tale of how looks can be deceiving and true love knows no bounds. The screenplay is well written and despite running in excess of two hours the story moves along at a good pace making the experience relatively painless, even for the dads dragged along by their wives and daughters.
Visually the film is stunning, especially the CGI used to create ‘The Beast’. But whilst the film looks fantastic, the characterisation leaves a lot to be desired.
The house staff trapped within household objects provide much of the comic relief and storytelling throughout the film. Each is animated expertly enough, but (with a few exceptions) fail to become endearing. In fact some are just plain annoying – Chip, for instance, would’ve met with a nasty end at the hands of a brisk dishwasher if my subconscious could have been realised.
To our lead then. Emma Watson as Belle provides the kind of perfectly accomplished performance you’d expect. Regrettably though, I feel Watson isn’t well suited to the girly, sickly sweetness of a Disney princess film.
Her approach is just a little too rigid, lacks a smidge of warmth, falls short of the required charm and fails to provide the mannerisms synonymous with those of a ‘Disney Princess’.
Whilst this dynamic works well early on in the film when evading the ever invasive approaches of Gaston (Luke Evans), as Belle‘s romance with the Beast developes Watson appears unnatural in the role.
Incidentally, Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as his sidekick LeFou steal the show. Evans’ casting in the role of the egotistical soldier is a stroke of genius with Gad providing camp comedy interludes delivered to perfection.
I concede, I am not be the target audience for Beauty and the Beast. My wife enjoyed the film for it’s escapism, my daughter’s loved every minute of it, because princesses. This is exactly why the film is performing so well at the box office. It’s an epic spectacle, well presented, well performed and it’s has that magic Disney sparkle.
As someone immune to Disney sparkle there are significant flaws to be found and the whole film lacks charm. Oh… and the final procession of smug British acting elite left me cringing out of the theatre.
Beauty and the Beast is in cinemas around the globe now.