Review: Live action remake of Beauty and the Beast adds nothing new except Emma Watson

Emma Watson stars as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, a live-act

Emma Watson stars as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, a live-action adaptation of the animated classic. Picture: Disney - Credit: Archant

The latest in Disney's mission to give all their old classic cartoons live action upgrades is old fashioned, traditional and adds little to the original.

Beauty and the Beast (PG)

***

Just as we've come to accept that it is entirely reasonable to have to replace a phone or laptop every two to three years, Disney has decided that it is no longer acceptable to expect contemporary infants to suffer through hand drawn animation.

Instead they are giving all their old classic cartoons live action upgrades.


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After Cinderella and The Jungle Book got the treatment they have turned on the 1991 animation which, along with The Little Mermaid, really launched their return to glory. It is precious to them, and this new take is under instructions to leave things just where it found them, as far as possible.

It features the original score and is in most aspects very traditional and old fashioned, from the staging of the musical numbers to the run-of-the-mill opulence of the Beast's Gothic palace.

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There's a shaky start in the French village but once ensconced in the Beast's castle, it is solid but uninspired entertainment that doesn't add anything to the original, other than an extra 35 minutes and Emma Watson as the real action Belle.

Isn't it ironic to cast her in a film about people cursed to remain trapped in an unnatural state? Perhaps one day we'll have a popular story about three young kids who get cast in a series of films about magic and wizardry, and then never grow up.

Radcliffe's, Watson's and Grint's combined abilities to largely brush aside the effects of puberty is downright creepy. The global public remain fascinated by her which is why she can waltz into this major starring role, despite her total lack of box office success post Potter.

She had to turn down the lead in La La Land for this: the movie equivalent of the Two Buses scenario. She's not bad in the role, and she has a decent voice, but surely in a role that demands Beauty, all she can offer is pretty.

Opposite her as The Beast, Downton Abbey Dan Stevens sounds like a demonically possessed Hugh Laurie, a growly Dr House.

Filmed at Shepperton studio it is filled with British screen greats and up and comers, most of whom are playing the furniture.

The Beast's house is so up market that it has Emma Thompson brewing the tea and even the clock is a knight of the realm (Sir Ian McKellen).

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