It’s a tale as old as time, but when Disney goes back to the well it’s usually worth the trip. The 1991 animated classic “Beauty and the Beast” gets a rousing ‘live-action’ reboot, although I use the term “Live-action” loosely when there’s this much computer animation involved. Emma Watson steps out of the world of Harry Potter and into the role of Belle, the provincial French beauty who warms the heart of a cursed beast, played by “Downton Abby’s” Dan Stevens.
The production values are first rate, the terrific music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman is mostly well delivered, but the addition of some unnecessary new tunes by Menken and Tim Rice slows things down, ballooning the running time from the original’s 85 minutes to two hours and nine minutes.
Yet, there’s plenty of movie magic and heart-tugging sentiment in this $160 million 3-D extravaganza. While it doesn’t live up to the standard of the Oscar-winning original, this new “Beast” has a “Beauty” all its own and hits an emotional bull’s-eye.
Can a youthful mistake be amended in one’s old age? What if the memory of it is unreliable? These are the central questions behind the British art house entry, “The Sense of an Ending.” Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent plays a man whose former girlfriend’s mother leaves him a mysterious diary in her will. Problem is, the old girlfriend refuses to give it to him. While the movie never quite mines the depth it seeks, it’s an interesting effort that’s impeccably acted.
Also opening this week, “Wolves” is a drama about a high school basketball player whose meddling, unethical father, played by Michael Shannon, threatens to upend his dreams before they even begin.
The 20th annual Kansas City Film Festival takes place April 5th-9th at the Cinemark Palace on the Plaza. Info is available at kcfilmfest.org.