First published in the mid-18th century, French romantic fantasy Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et le Bête) has evolved on its journey from print to stage and screen. In this live action remake, Disney aims to please fans of the 1991 original animation and the 1994 Broadway musical, and charm newcomers.

Whether you think it has succeeded will depend on what you thought of these references.

There are more songs than ever (including new ones), with the Beast also getting his moment to sing. The storyline is faithful to the original film, but goes deeper into the backgrounds of Belle and the Beast by revealing more about their parents. Emma Watson makes for the perfect heroine: kind, brave and intelligent and, as her father says, "so ahead of her time". Without overdoing it, she's a modern, independent woman and a perfect role model for young girls.

Directed by Oscar-winner Bill Condon (Dreamgirls), Beauty and the Beast isn't over the top visually like the 2016 French remake staring Vincent Cassel and Lea Seydoux.

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Instead, it's a picture-perfect fairytale that doesn't mind looking like a set, or being a little dark, visually and in spirit. It also combines live action and animated characters convincingly, largely thanks to Watson, who spends a lot of the film talking to a clock, teacup and candlestick, and includes vibrant musical numbers from everyone in the cast.

Condon successfully creates chemistry between Belle and the Beast, played by Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens, with both lovely and funny moments as they slowly become friends, culminating in Belle's absolute delight at being shown the Beast's library and told to make herself at home.

The film has created a stir in less tolerant places around the world for featuring Disney's first openly gay character, played by Josh Gad. Ironically, there's been no mention of Belle falling in love with a beast who resembles an animal more than a human.

Beauty and the Beast doesn't break new ground like its Oscar nominated 1991 predecessor, and is a touch long, but it's a lovely addition to the Disney stable and will charm adults and kids alike, just as recent live action remake Cinderella did.


Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens Director: Bill Condon
Running Time: 129 mins
Rating: PG (Violence)
Verdict: A charming addition to the Disney BATB legacy.