Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review
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In the 26 years since its release, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has become a timeless classic—one that’s delighted generations of fairy tale fans. Now director Bill Condon adapts the beloved animated tale into a live-action release that’s almost as charming as the original.

The new Beauty and the Beast stars Emma Watson as Belle, the beautiful bookworm who feels completely out of place in her small French village. She spends her days buried in a book, attempting to avoid the advances of vain but persistent Gaston (Luke Evans). When her father (Kevin Kline) is taken prisoner at an enchanted castle, Belle races to his rescue, only to end up a prisoner herself, living in a lonely castle, where the master has been cursed to live his life as a terrifying beast (Dan Stevens). But she soon discovers than there’s more to the beast than just his frightening appearance.

For devoted fans of Disney’s animated classic, the live-action Beauty and the Beast is a magical reunion. It stays true to the original, bringing back the same lovable characters, the same vibrant personalities, the same costumes, and the same unforgettable songs (with a few new ones thrown in).

There’s just something enchanting about seeing such a dearly loved animated film come to life on the big screen—about seeing the village, the forest, the castle, the enchanted characters as if you could walk right up and join in the adventure. And, for the most part, the effects truly feel lifelike. It’s a striking adaptation, with sets as grand as you’ve imagined all these years. Yet, despite the stunning visuals, it still retains its playfulness and whimsy—thanks in no small part to supporting characters like Josh Gad’s LeFou.

Emma Watson, meanwhile, is perfect for her role as Belle, giving the beloved Disney princess just the right mix of sweetness and strength. She may have her “nose stuck in a book,” but she isn’t flighty and naive. She’s clever and resourceful and compassionate, too—and though she feels like an outsider, she has no intention of backing down to fit in.

But Belle isn’t the only character whose personality has been given a boost. There are hints of back stories and additional scenes to develop them even more. And while that adds to the runtime, it also adds to the film’s emotional impact.

Of course, not everything here works perfectly. Some of the additions to the film—especially some of the new songs—feel unnecessary, and not all of the casting choices live up to the original. But those are merely minor flaws in a magical, musical, and moving adaptation.

If you’re a fan of Disney’s original Beauty and the Beast, this faithful remake is definitely a must-see—and, thanks to its striking effects and mostly magnificent cast, you won’t be disappointed. It’s my favorite live-action update to date.

Blu-ray Review:
Fans of Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast remake will definitely want to take some time to explore the extras included in the film’s Blu-ray release. The special features menu is loaded with behind-the-scene footage. A Beauty of a Tale takes a look at every aspect of the film, from its sets to its performances to its effects. It shows how the cast and crew started with a love of both musical theater and the original animated classic and turned it into a film that was true to the original but also more lifelike.

Other making-of features focus on specific aspects of the film. Enchanted Table Read allows fans to watch what happened when the cast got together to run through their lines—and sing and dance their way through the musical numbers. And From Song to Screen takes a look at four iconic musical numbers, exploring the details and challenges that went into each one. And The Women Behind Beauty and the Beast introduces a handful of the many women who worked behind the scenes, through every step of the filmmaking process—and they discuss their jobs and their background and offer advice to anyone who wants to do what they do.

Other extras include an extended song, eight deleted scenes, some sing-alongs, a music video, and a talk with Celine Dion about her experiences with Beauty and the Beast.

Whether you’re a long-time fan the original Beauty and the Beast, a new fan of the live-action version, or just a fan of filmmaking in general, you’ll find something here that’s well worth watching. The behind-the-scenes features are entertaining and eye-opening—and they may just inspire your own aspiring young filmmaker.

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