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Is the movie as transporting and witty a romantic fantasy as the animated original? A good animated fairy tale is, of course, more than just a movie — it’s a whole universe.
The form was invented by Disney eighty years ago, with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937), a film I still think has never been surpassed, and when you watch something as transporting as “Snow White” — or “Bambi,” or “Toy Story,” or “Beauty and the Beast” — every gesture and background and choreographed flourish, from the facial expressions to the drip-drop of water, flows together with a poetic unity. When you watch the new “Beauty and the Beast,” you’re in a prosaic universe of dark and stormy sets, one that looks a lot like other (stagy) films you’ve seen.
The “Be Our Guest” musical number scrupulously revives the dancing-plate surreal exuberance of the original, but there the frenetic nuttiness was exquisite.
Here it tips between exhilarating and exhausting, because you can feel the special-effects heavy lifting that went into it.
And one of the reasons is that it’ll be the first time that actress Emma Watson has had to sing as part of a role.
He built his empire on the image of Mickey Mouse (who made his debut in 1928), but Disney really patented the brand concept in 1955, with the launch of Disneyland, where kids could see old familiar characters — Mickey! — in a completely different context, which made them new.Visually, the characterization makes a nod to the scowling-eyed Beast from Jean Cocteau’s immortal “Beauty and the Beast” (1946), but he also comes off as a kind of royal version of the Elephant Man: a melancholy freak trapped in solitude.I loved that for a good long while, he’s a bit of a hard-ass, a man-creature who doesn’t dare to think that Belle could love him.Which is to say, the new “Beauty and the Beast” is not as kid-friendly a movie.It tries to be in certain sequences, notably those featuring Lumière the candelabra (voiced by Ewan Mc Gregor), Cogsworth the pendulum clock (Ian Mc Kellen), and Garderobe the wardrobe (Audra Mc Donald) — all of whom are basically tactile, live-action animated characters.