BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2017) MOVIE REVIEW

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2017) Score: A

Rating: PG. Parents should note that some of the action is violent and some of the images can be frightening.

Length: 129 Minutes. Parents should note that this film is 45 minutes longer than the original animated film classic.

“A MAGICAL TALE AS OLD AS TIME…..”

The late, great film critic Roger Ebert began his 1991 review of the animated film classic with the following paragraph:

“Beauty and the Beast” slipped around all my roadblocks and penetrated directly into my strongest childhood memories, in which animation looked more real than live-action features. Watching the movie, I found myself caught up in a direct and joyous way. I wasn’t reviewing an “animated film.” I was being told a story, I was hearing terrific music, and I was having fun”.

If Roger was alive today, he might have written pretty much of the same, except changing a word or two in the first sentence:

“….. in which live-action combined with CGI has created yet another Disney masterpiece”.

As a writer who calls himself “the public’s film critic” — I cannot ignore the honest fact that as the credits began to roll, this film received the longest sustained applause of any film I have reviewed over the past few years. The story remains a magical tale as old as time. The musical score with additional new songs, is absolutely gorgeous. And you will definitely be impressed.

The 1991 animated film was nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture of the Year. Yes, an impossible film to remake. But in the world of Disney — “impossible things are happening every day”. There are scores of people who need to be credited:

Director Bill Condon has a lot to be proud of. He knows how to build a great team.

Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos have crafted a fine screenplay.

Those involved with photography, production design, editing and costumes are all at the top of their game.

Songs and music and score: the name Alan Menken speaks for itself. He received two Oscars for the 1991 film. And so does the lyrics of the late Howard Ashman; and the new lyrics of Tim Rice.

I also want to acknowledge Lucy Bevan who was in charge of casting. Be sure to please stay for all of the credits, as you will applaud and cheer for Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.

Disney even knows when to release a new film. With little competition this weekend — this is one beauty that will have a beast of a box office return. The estimated first week figures should be astronomical.

Thank you to the French novelist, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, for having written the first story of Beauty and the Beast in 1740.

SPOILER ALERT: If you stay through the credits, you will hear three new songs sung by Celine Dion; Ariana Grande and John Legend; and Josh Groban. It may only be the month of March, but I predict that one of these three songs will win next year’s Oscar for Best Song of the Year.

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