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Moview review: 'Beauty and the Beast'

'Beauty and the Beast'
U/A; Fantasy
Starring: Lea Seydoux, Vincent Cassel, Andre Dussollier
Director: Christophe Gans
Rating: 3 stars

Beauty and the Beast
'Beauty and the Beast'. Pic/Santa Banta

Remaking a classic is a feat in itself, and remaking a household Disney animated classic is a whole new level of Herculean. It's also a tricky tightrope to walk – on one hand, the filmmaker needs to be respectful to the source material and not alienate the audience of the original film. On the other, he needs to also infuse some of his own vision into an old story for it to be able to stand out on its own.

So what does the live action remake of 'Beauty and the Beast' have in store for us? A little bit of both, fortunately. The film is directed by Christophe Gans, who made the highly underrated 'Brotherhood of the Wolf' a few years ago, and the even more underrated 'Silent Hill', which remains one of the precious few well made video game film adaptations. Both those films had striking visuals and Gans does it yet again with 'Beauty and the Beast'. With source material of such high quality, Gans only had to focus on the visual aspect of the film. And it really is quite gorgeous to look at.

The story remains exactly the same, with a slight upgrade. A rich city merchant becomes penniless and moves to the countryside along with his family. He soon discovers a magical kingdom full of gold. He tries to steal some of the yellow metal but is caught by the Beast residing in the fortress. The merchant's daughter (Seydoux) steps in to save her father and offers herself to the Beast in exchange for her father's life.

Luckily, this is first and foremost a children's film, without any attempts to cross over to gothic adult fare like the misbegotten 'Snow White and the Huntsman'. Here, we have the lovely Lea Seydoux as the Beauty, which is a little hard to swallow considering the fact that we just saw her in 'Blue is the Warmest Color', a polar opposite of a movie. Fortunately, she's quite talented and pulls off her role on the right notes. She's likable, someone a child viewer would root for. The Beast, played by Vincent Cassel, is very cool. The visuals really are top notch, especially with Seydoux's red dress flowing across the snowy white forest. It's not as dark as one expects it to be, but it's fun nonetheless, especially if you have kids for company.

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