'Beauty and the Beast' a marvelous update

'Beauty and the Beast' a marvelous update”

And if you're thinking of going further afield.

Twenty-six years after Disney's animated Beauty and the Beast dazzled audiences, the studio is back with a live-action version.

The verdict: Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" is sure to sweep you off your feet with its charming musical numbers and strong characters, but it's nothing that hasn't been done before. The movie does include most of the songs that were added for the Broadway musical, so it plays nearly as an amalgam of both sources.

I think they're 3 for 3. With 26 years in between adaptations, there has been plenty of time to deviate from the traditional plot and make this movie into something great, yet the producers chose to stake its appeal in the "live action" aspect. The movie it reminded me of was "Moulin Rouge", which also seemed like a cartoon starring real people.

Edwin: Not really. Pretty much any connection I felt while watching was due to a memory it triggered from the 1991 animated film. It looks the same, moves the same and sounds the same (those Alan Menken songs!) as the original.

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For the most part, excellent. As time is running out, the Beast decides to give Belle her freedom in order to save her father, dooming himself for all eternity. A spoiled prince (Stevens, allowed for a minute to show his Downton Abbey handsomeness) gets zapped into a beast for being an arrogant prick; his curse can only be lifted if the egomaniac learns to love and be loved in return. Ian McKellen is quite amusing as Cogsworth and Ewan McGregor, despite never seeing the original movie, brings the same upbeat and whimsical performance to Lumiere. Evans, despite being noticeably a bit older than his character should be, is almost flawless as a loathsome, stupid jerk. We need more Lefous in our films.

Yes. As mentioned above, the movie explains what happened to Belle's mother, and confirms that Belle and Maurice came to the village from elsewhere, and why. The scene in which the castle's enchanted objects battle the villagers is alone worth the price of admission.

The preview screening I attended was in standard 2D, and it was absolutely gorgeous. "It's such a good question and it's something I really grappled with at the beginning", she said. In a nod to Belle's favorite play, Condon's film reminded me more of Hailee Steinfeld's wash/rinse/repeat "Romeo & Juliet" than Baz Luhrmann's dialogue-faithful, rock "n" roll "Romeo + Juliet".

In 1946, acclaimed French director Jean Cocteau filmed his own live-action film, La Belle et la Bête, which is still held up as one of the most magical works of 20th century cinema.

Aside from all the musical numbers, there are quite a few laughs in the film as well, and the Beast is quite amusing himself.

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