Saturday, 25 March 2017

Review: Beauty And The Beast

Beauty And The Beast (2017) (2D)
Cert: PG / 129 mins / Dir. Bill Condon / Trailer

And, relax. After the pleasant surprise that was Disney's retelling of Cinderella, but followed the next year by a rendition of The Jungle Book which left me blank-faced, I wasn't exactly a quivering bundle of excitement for Beauty And The Beast being given the same live-action treatment. Which would partly explain why it took me a week to set aside the time to go see it.

But the Friday-night performance of the film (and in my local's largest auditorium) was veritably packed. Considering there are still five-showings a day and it's been out for a week, this is an excellent turn and good news for everybody. Speaking of which, let's cut to the chase: Beauty And The Beast is marvellous. I see no reason to build up to praise, here. Following the framework of the classic story, it's primarily a remake of the 1991 animated film, with branches of the 1994 Broadway musical grafted on. And it is, to be blunt, perfect Disney.

Emma Watson and Dan Stevens bring equally bold performances, with subtle character-development on each side which could easily be overlooked by many another director. They're reliably supported by an ensemble cast of established character actors*1 and near-flawless visuals. There are enough songs to make the film A Musical™, but still plenty of gaps in between to allow for actual storytelling to occur. Although speaking of the cast, I can't help but feel that the Scottish Ewan McGregor's vocal performance as the French candelabra Lumiere is a calculated, 30-year payback for Christopher Lambert's work in Highlander. Never entirely comfortable with anything other than his native-brogue or Kenobi British, the actor's nowhere near 'bad' here but always just sounds like Ewan McGregor putting on an arch, comedy-French accent.

And speaking of retribution, there's been much (and needless) controversy about Josh Gad's LeFou being depicted as gay in the film, of course. While his moments are certainly played up for comic relief, he is nonetheless one of the film's character high-points. But the cynic in me couldn't help but wonder if this more sympathetic turn is Gad showing some form of penitence for his borderline homophobic character in PIxels. I actually hope it is.

But all in all, there's really very little for me to say about Beauty And The Beast. The audience know what they're going in for, and the film delivers. Although more eager to see the film that I was, Mrs Blackout actually found the film's finale to be a bit over the top. I, on the other hand, think that by that point, the film has earned every second of its self-indulgent and boisterous crescendo.

Sure, it's Disney By Numbers™, but what numbers

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
2015's live-action Cinderella.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you're going to see it at all, see it big.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
In every way.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
With a cast this strong, probably not, to be fair.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
I didn't hear one.
Which is ridiculous, because there's a five-minute segment just crying out for it

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: This film's got the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in it.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 With the unsurprising exception of Luke Evans, who seems to think he's starring in an am-dram pantomime version of the tale. It's perhaps not his fault as he's a) almost uniformly awful in everything, and b) been mis-cast terribly to begin with. While Gaston is certainly a deplorable archetype, part of that is his deceptively-dashing exterior. It's never a 'reveal' that the character's actually an arsehole, but you're supposed to come to the conclusion gradually. Evans' version just looks like a wrong'un from the moment he steps onto set, barking like Peter Kay auditioning for The Pirates Of Penzance[ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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