BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2014)
This version of the classic tale is from Brotherhood of the Wolf director Christophe Gans and is a sumptuous telling of the story. French film has a merchant (André Dussollier) escaping a band of ruffians and wandering through a snowstorm into the castle of The Beast (Vincent Cassel). The creature commands he must stay, but will allow him one night to say goodbye to his family. When he returns home and relates his tale, his youngest daughter Belle (Léa Seydoux) sneaks out and goes to the Beast’s castle and offers herself in her father’s stead. The Beast is enchanted with her and thus begins a relationship that turns from fear and defiance to love…a love that may be The Beast’s only hope of becoming the man he once was. But, there is trouble ahead for Beast and Belle as her brother Maxime (Nicholas Gob) has offered up the riches of Beast’s castle to the gang leader Perducas (Eduardo Noriega) as payment for his debts.
Directed from a script by he and Sandra Vo-Anh this is a visually spectacular interpretation of the classic story and has a much welcome dark edge to it. It is entertaining and only looses it’s grip somewhat in a very CGI heavy last act when Perducas and his thugs raid Beast’s castle and he defends it with colossal moving statues and the local flora and fauna and it gets a little overindulgent. Belle’s disdain turning to love also could have been handled better as it happens a bit too quick, though her dreams of how The Beast came to be are well done and very effective. The costumes and make-up are elegant and the sets and FX are top notch and the cast all seem to fit and play their roles well, especially Vincent Cassel, who plays beast and prince equally well and the enchanting Miss Seydoux as Belle. It may be a bit of a flawed telling, but still very enjoyable and if nothing else, a visual feast for the eyes.