Nothing I write will help you fathom the true beauty of Beauty and the Beast — now out on DVD.
Adjectives fail. It’s something you have to experience to really understand. Beauty is one of the year’s best pictures and will win a ton of awards at the end of the year and into next.
When Beauty and the Beast was released in theaters in March it came in two versions: stunning 3-D and the equally stunning standard two-dimensions. If you lived in a bigger market the film also spent a few weeks in IMAX theaters. I saw both the 2D and the IMAX 3-D.
This movie won’t be nearly as impressive on a smaller TV screen. It’s going to make you wish you’d seen it in a theater and in 3-D. So watch this on the biggest possible screen.
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Stylistically, Beauty and the Beast owes more to Broadway than Disney’s fabled 1991 animated feature.
Belle is trapped in a small village and longs for a bigger world. Fate interrupts her humdrum existence and she ends up captive to a prince, doomed to remain a beast to the end of his days. Cursed along with him are his servants. One is a teapot. The others a clock and a candelabra. There’s a piano, a footstool and a cup and a few more.
This version, however, is touched up a bit with some expanded backstories. There’s also new music from Alan Menken and Tim Rice that is added to Menken and Howard Ashman’s originals.
Another important point. This is a bit darker and more violent than the original. The film’s cute creatures are fun, and it’s impossible not to love Emma Watson’s Belle, but this one has a couple of scenes that might — depending on the maturity of your child — be very frightening.
Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellan, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw give voice to the enchanted household items and Kevin Kline, Luke Evans and Josh Gad do the main human characters and Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens is The Beast.
The casting of Watson (from the Harry Potter movies) works. Her girl-next-door looks are perfect for the guileless Belle. While her singing won’t blow you away, it fits the character and the movie. The rest of the cast get the same response. The music is much more impressive than the vocals.
But it’s not just the music, or the story, or the actors that make this one stand out. That’s not to say they’re not important, but they’re not what makes Beauty and the Beast one of the best ever of its genre.
Director Bill Condon has created a movie that can only be described as magical. As noted earlier, there is no way to adequately describe the impact of what you’ll see. The effects, the sets and the film’s colors are, at times, jaw-dropping — even in ordinary two dimensions.
Condon (Dream Girls, Twilight: Breaking Dawn parts 1 & 2) plants a smile on your face at the opening sequences and it lasts to the closing credits. And when the last credit fades and you immediately want to see it again.
Movies don’t get any better than that.
Movie name: Beauty and the Beast
Director: Bill Condon
Stars: Stars: Emma Watson, Emma Thompson, Dan Stevens, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellan, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Josh Gad
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.