Having thoroughly enjoyed Disney’s 2015 Cinderella directed by Kenneth Branagh, I was hoping that Beauty and the Beast would be of the same calibre. Sadly, despite the hype surrounding its release, it is not.
Directed by James Condon, this latest Disney production, filmed at Shepperton Studios in England, is tediously long, top-heavy with computer-generated special effects, and short on clarity of either narrative or characterisation.
This is not to say that Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline and Luke Evans do not endeavour to make the most of their roles. Unfortunately, the screenplay by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos simply doesn’t give them much to work with.
This muddled adaptation bears minimal semblance to the classic French tale. French names and French accents blend uneasily with British and American voices.
While animated scenes with the enchanted teapot, cup, candelabra, clock and wardrobe are amusing and the extravagant opening and closing ballroom scenes are fabulous, the bulk of this film seems to serve merely as a vehicle for yet more computer-generated imagery.
The target audience is unclear. The special effects are far too scary for young children and I doubt that older children will stay focused throughout its more than two-hour length.