Film News: Emma Watson Will Star in Live-Action ‘Beauty and the Beast’

This morning, TheWrap.com reported that Emma Watson will be taking the role of Belle in Disney’s live-action adaption of “Beauty and the Beast.” Watson shared her excitement about her roleĀ on her Facebook page today:

Facebook announcement today, January 26th. Screen shot by author.
Facebook announcement today, January 26th. Screen shot by author.

Disney is really lining up the adaptations of its classics, making this venture the fourth one in a recent string. Thus far, we’ve had “Maleficent” and this year we’re getting “Cinderella” and “Jungle Book.” You might also include “Frozen” in that list, if you count the appearance of the beloved Disney characters in the fourth season of “Once Upon a Time.” The fairy tale trend can be expanded further with the popularity of “Into the Woods,” another Disney project.

Live-action adaptations of stories (whether from fairy tale or general storybooks) have been around for a long time, but newer and better special effects do much to raise the hype for these productions, something that is not singular to Disney. Just look at the recent success of “Paddington” from StudioCanal, with a very convincing but computer generated bear.

The question now is whether the new “Beauty and the Beast” can match or even surpass the flair and magic of the original animated film. For a time, Guillermo del Toro was going to make his own version, which would have starred Emma Watson. While it’s interesting to consider how his might have turned out, it’s probably a relief to know that Disney will be at the helm this time and that so far casting is in good hands.

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Review: ‘Paddington’ is a Truly Endearing and Poignant Family Film

According to box office estimates, “Paddington” took third place behind “American Sniper” and “The Wedding Ringer” this weekend with a pull of nearly $19.3 million. One hopes that the figures will only continue to rise for the family film, which already set records in the UK for distributor StudioCanal last month. Continue reading “Review: ‘Paddington’ is a Truly Endearing and Poignant Family Film”

Film Review: ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ is More of the Same

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

What appears to be the final chapter in the “Night of the Museum” series was a bit of a mixed bag as Larry (Ben Stiller) and the gang headed off to London. Continue reading “Film Review: ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ is More of the Same”

Film News: ‘Frozen Fever’ Opens in March 2015 Before ‘Cinderella’

The beloved characters of “Frozen” will be returning next year in a special animated short, to be screened right before “Cinderella.” The special is aptly named “Frozen Fever” because unless you’ve been off the network, you’re well aware of the popularity of the 2013 film that started it all. It’s a surge that brought the “Frozen Sing-Along” only months later and to this day, still has adults and kids singing “Let It Go.” The good news broke today on Disney Insider, which hints that Elsa’s powers may wreak havoc at Anna’s birthday party. Continue reading “Film News: ‘Frozen Fever’ Opens in March 2015 Before ‘Cinderella’”

Film Review: ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ is Fun, But Hardly Innovative

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

It seems to be a week full of fowl creatures gastronomically (for the carnivores) and cinematically. The birds in question are the turkey, mockingjay, and penguin. (“Birdman” could be applied to the second category, too.) It’s expected that “Mockingjay Part 1” will score the top spot at the box office once again, facing little competition from “Penguins of Madagascar.” The latter film was just released by DreamWorks Animation as a spin-off from the “Madagascar” series.

The story begins by showing Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon), and Private (Christopher Knights) in the early days when they first met. Right from their start as a group, these hilarious penguins wanted to be different and embrace the adventurous side of life. Adults will probably be amused by the animated cameo by Werner Herzog, working on documentary about penguins. There’s a joke in there about authenticity and keeping things interesting as the crew pushes our little heroes off a cliff, sending them on their journey to the world of zoos and circuses. Continue reading “Film Review: ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ is Fun, But Hardly Innovative”