Beauty and the Beast ★★★

A Tale As Old As Time... but does it need retelling?

It may not reach the heights of The Jungle Book and Cinderella (I am still yet to see Pete's Dragon), but I actually enjoyed Beauty and the Beast.

Visually, it is stunning. The screen (quite literally in some places) explodes with colour, the cinematography is rich and the production design is superb. For the most part, the CGI is excellent and Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs Potts et al are all brilliantly brought to ‘life.’ The design of the Beast is good but the CGI is very noticeable in places. I'm not sure if practical effects would have worked better...

The performances are wonderful too. Angela Lansbury will always be the quintessential Mrs. Potts, but Emma Thompson - as one would naturally expect - is perfect in the role, and also enchants us with a beautiful rendition of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ I’ve seen so many people complain that she isn’t Angela Lansbury… and they’re quite right. She isn’t. She’s Emma Thompson, she’s incredible and your opinion is wrong. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion but I, respectfully, disagree.

I’m not afraid to admit that I had tears in my eyes towards the end, and the new added lyric, sung by Thompson, in 'Beauty and the Beast (Finale)' might have had something to do with that!

Likewise, Ewan McGregor gives a great performance as Lumiere, and he and Thompson really knock it out of the park with ‘Be Our Guest’. I’ve had it playing on a loop since the soundtrack was released and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

Without a doubt, Luke Evans and Josh Gad as Gaston and LeFou, respectively, are the standout performances in this film, and their two songs (‘Gaston’ and ‘The Mob Song’) make up my two favourite scenes.

Emma Watson and Dan Stevens are good as Belle and the Beast. I enjoyed the more modern take on Belle and I really enjoyed the Beast's new song 'Evermore' as Belle rides away to find her father. One gripe I do have lies with Emma Watson... I just don't think she's a great singer, and the obvious auto-tune is obvious. She is however, a good fit for Belle - I'm just glad she didn't get Emma Stone's role in La La Land!

This film is lacking something, though. Something doesn't feel right but it's tough to put your finger on... It has great energy and it's a lot of fun but it just doesn't seem to flow very well between one scene and the next and that isn't helped by some very jarring 'fade to black' scene transitions. Ironically, the animated version has more life to it! Not only that, while it takes a few liberties here and there, it is close to a carbon copy of the original so you can't help but wonder, what exactly is the point?

It is not as good as the 1991 classic, it drags in places, and ultimately feels pretty safe and ordinary. There is, however, a lot to enjoy. It reallt is a charming watch and has clearly had a lot of love and heart poured into it and I can see it attracting a whole new generation of fans. But as someone who loves the original it is a tough sell. I adored Jon Favreau's remake of The Jungle Book but I never was a fan of the original Disney classic, but even then, I really like Ken Branagh's Cinderella, and I like the original a lot, too.

So, it is a let down, but there's enough in there to keep you entertained and to enjoy. I like it nevertheless.