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Beauty and the Beast          review by Bobby Blakey

There have been numerous iterations of the famed Beauty and the Beast fairytale brought to life over the years with Disney’s animated the most popular. Now they are getting ready to bring a live action version to the big screen, but it is not the first to do so. Shout Factory has brought the French version of the film from director Chritophe Gans that stars Vincent Cassel and Lea Seydoux to Blu-ray and DVD for fans to experience the magic.

Beauty and the Beast follows an unexpected romance that blooms after the youngest daughter of a merchant who has fallen on hard times offers herself to the mysterious beast to which her father has become indebted. I have to be honest I am not a big fan of this story in any way and have yet to really enjoy any of the versions. I tried to go into this one with an open mind knowing that it was supposed to be closer to the original source material. This one features pretty much all of the same elements in the other films being the same story, but has some new directions that made it felt a bit different. There is a darker tone to this one at times that did help it move along a bit better, but it still struggles a bit with the story itself. This is supposed to be a timeless tale of love, but I never fully got invested in either of the characters together. Sure they have a connection, but the circumstances are just not all that believable, but this is an issue with this story as a whole anyway.

For this kind of film to work you have to have a convincing beast and it that aspect is hit and miss as well. I like that they went dual CGI and live action to bring him to life as it made the overall performance work better than some CGI characters tend to work. Sadly there are times where the face itself just looks fake and in a time where they have been able to create characters that appear real on screen that makes it stand out all the more when it doesn’t work. The surroundings that make up this fairy tale world are beautiful to look at adding a bigger and more vibrant world than it might have otherwise. The performances across the board were decent with Cassel playing against type in this role and offering up a fresh look at what the actor has to offer.

In the end the film works fine and for those that are hardcore fans of the story will likely be entertained with this different take. This release doesn’t offer up a lot of bonus content, but does feature some interviews that take you deeper into the director and actors processes and experiences to bring this film to life. Beauty and the Beast is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Shout Factory.

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