Emma Watson is an actress that lives off of the fame that starring in Harry Potter has afforded her. She is a fine actress, and admirably so, a hard-working woman. What she is not is Meryl Streep. Streep can blend into any role and establish herself as formidable in the blink of an eyelash extension. Emma Watson on the other spectrum, needs to be inserted into a role that is perfect for her, almost written exclusively for her unique talents and demeanor. Somehow, someway (it's called an agent people) Director Bill Condon (famed Twilight director) found Emma Watson at the perfect moment in time. Directed by Bill Condon, and starring Emma Watson, Disney's latest remake of Beauty and the Beast is perhaps its very best iteration thus far. Emma Watson makes the beast roar and audiences cry. This is the perfect role for her and to her infinite credit, she made the most of it.
Rather than retelling a tale as old as chronos (time people, time!), I will dissect various aspects of Beauty and the Beast to provide you with some insight into what makes this particular version so lovely and wild.
First, Luke Evans is an excellent actor but a poor choice for Gaston. The Gaston we know is a muscular behemoth capable of smashing-heads together and prone to bouts of sexism and wanderlust. This new iteration of Gaston is a jerk, but he is tamer than the beast! Whether the screenwriters neutered Gaston to make his persona more palatable, or if it is Luke Evans portraying Gaston without the masculinity the role traditionally beckons, is up for interpretation. Gaston feels less like a dastardly nemesis so much as a milquetoast pain in the ass.
Second, Dan Stevens is a handsome beast! Growl, roar, scratch and claw, he is brooding, emotional, colorful, metamorphosing, and all this in just a shade over two hours! In all seriousness, Stevens as the Beast is nothing except for eloquent after a fashion. The chemistry between Stevens and Watson is built on the promise of tearing down walls, drawing curtains, and friendship. It is something we can all become immersed and invested in.
Third, Josh Gad plays second fiddle to Luke Evans' Gaston, but it more appears he is in love with Gaston and not in a bromantic sort of way. This is actually a fun and intriguing twist that I had not anticipated. However, Josh Gad needs to concentrate on singing and humor because as a serious actor, he is difficult to take seriously.
Fourth, this Beauty and the Beast is over two hours long, and much like Dunkirk, it deserves an additional hour. This is a tale as old as time, that the camera crew ran out of time for! Irony abounds in the most absurd of ways.
Overall, this new Beauty and the Beast shows why a Disney story is timeless, even if retooled, recalibrated, and retold.