Tag Archives: Luke Evans

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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The animated Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is great and bookish Belle is a classic Disney heroine. So the live action adaptation of the Best Picture nominated movie has a lot of expectations behind it. Can it enchant a new audience?

Belle (Emma Watson) is an outcast among the people in her village, and longs for something more in life. She soon gets her chance when her father (Kevin Kline) is held prisoner in a mysterious palace for stealing a rose (the fiend!) and swaps herself in his place. However the prince of the palace is an enchanted Prince (Dan Stevens) who will remain under a beastly appearance unless someone can see beneath th beast and fall in love with him. Who could that be?

It can come across as Beauty and the Beast Karaoke as the live action film follows the same plot, characters and songs as the animated version. But considering how popular that movie is the studio would be crazy to change too much and most of the changes are to enhance characters (such as making Belle an inventor) or explain plot holes from the animated movie (such as why no one knows about the big freaking castle nearby). Most of these changes are welcome addition however it’s a shame the new songs don’t shine as much as the classics.

After the new prologue feature Dan Stevens in pre-Beast get up the film properly gets going as we follow Belle around her village set to the song ‘Belle’. From then on the audience is easily drawn into the story all over again. It has to be said the sets and costumes are a feast for the eyes, and while they can’t match the gorgeousness of the animation there’s still something striking about seeing this all come to life in live action.

Emma Watson is wonderful as Belle, bringing warmth, intelligence and modern sensibilities to Belle. At first I wasn’t sure about Dan Stevens’ Beast however the more interaction he had with Watson’s Belle the more I was drawn to his character. The stand out character though has to be Luke Evans’ Gaston who looks as if he was ripped out of the animated movie to play the dastardly villain. Evans strikes the right balance of humour, menace and over the top theatrics to bring Gaston to life. His and Josh Gad’s LeFou have a great rendition of the song ‘Gaston’ and is one of the many highlights of the film.

Theres been much made about Disney’s first openly gay character being present in this film and the ‘gay moment’ will have most people saying “is that it?” However on reflection it is still a big step in Disney history and the fact that Disney knows their box office will be restricted because of this (with some countries rating it adults only or banning it outright altogether) means it’s a brave move on their part. As this movie is also the first to feature an interracial kiss, one can hope Disney can continue taking further steps towards diversity in its future films.

Beauty and the Beast is an easy film to be swept away and charmed with, and with everything that’s going on in the world its nice to whirl yourself into a world where kindness and inner beauty shines through.

Rating 4/5 – sure to be a new family favourite, allow yourself to be their guest at a cinema near you

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The Girl On The Train

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Back in 2015 it seemed like everyone was reading Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train and now everyone seems to be going on about the film version directed by Tate Taylor. But can the big screen adaptation be anywhere near as successful as the book?

Rachel is a lonely divorced alcholic who rides the same train everyday which passes by the house of her her ex hsuband Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) house. She also watches another couple Scott and Megan who live on the same street (played by Luke Evans and Hayley Bennett) and daydreams about their seemingly idylic life. However when Megan goes missing Rachel becomes obsessed with finding out the truth about her disapearance, especially as she fears she may have seen Megan during a drunken blackout.

The Girl on the Train is a solid adapatation, with a great performance by Emily Blunt as the messed up Rachel. Blunt emotes sympathy for the main character while also showing us the flawed and desperate person she has become. While Blunt wasn’t who I imagined playing Rachel when the film was first announced she plays a convincing drunk who looks suitably dishevilled for most of the movie. The other central female roles are also well played by Bennett and Furguson and they are certainly more interesting roles then the ones Evans and Theroux have to play (which makes a nice change for the female to get the better roles in a film).

As I’ve read the book before this did limit my enjoyment of the mystery at the heart of the film but I was still engaged in the story. Much like the book I found the main character interesting, especially as she is such an unreliable narrator therefore you are always questioning what you are seeing and being told by her. However as the revalations gets revealed the film gets less engaging and it almost feels as though Taylor felt he had to rush through the last act to it’s so-so conclusion.

Rating 3/5 – a solid movie that isn’t quite as good as it’s leading actresses

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Dracula Untold

Is there really anything about Dracula that hasn’t already been told before? Apparently there is, according to Universal Pictures with the release of Dracula Untold, giving us the origin story (again!) behind fiction’s most famous vampire.

Back in the Middle Ages Vlad (Luke Evans), the Prince of Transylvania comes into conflict with the villainous Sultan of Turkey (Dominic Cooper) when the Sultan demand 1000 boys to join his army, including Vlad’s son. To stop this from happening Vlad seeks out a monster (Charles Dance) he knows is hidden in the caves. The monster offers Vlad the power to stop the Sultan, but the price is a thirst for human blood.

It’s an odd film to review in a way, because as soon as it finished I didn’t know quite what I thought of it. It wasn’t bad but not a conventual good one either. Elements of the film works but it seemed uncertain what type of movie it wants to be. I think I expected the film to be much darker and gorier than what it was. It also felt as though the cast were all acting in different movies. Evans playing it straight and brooding, Charles Dance and Paul Kaye (asĀ  Brother Lucian) seem to have walked in from a Hammer Horror movie, while Vlad’s wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) has wondered in from some sort of historical romance. Not that necessarily anyone is bad in their roles but it’s a bit jarring when the cast seem to be reading from different scripts. It also takes a while for the film to find its teeth (sorry). Part of me wonders if this movie was on tv or dvd I’d be more forgiving of its flaws.

Its less a case of Dracula Untold but rather Dracula Retold-but slightly differently. Most of us have heard some of the stories of Vlad the Impaler (the real life inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula). Here the film puts Vlad in a more heroic role-because nothing screams good guy more than someone whose early years included impaling people! Although it’s a dubious retelling of history, Vlad is actually a pretty likeable and sympathetic guy, someone who is trying to save his family and his kingdom no matter the price he must pay. Evans is good in his first leading man role, convincing as family man, Prince, warrior and, of course, vampire. His scenes with his son Ingerus (Art Parkingson) are surprisingly good and they have an emotional impact that the film really needs.

The film finds its feet more as it goes along, with some good special effects thrown in. Vlad transforming into bats is particularly effective. However there are several glaringĀ  mistakes where Vlad is standing in direct sunlight without bursting into flame. Some of the fight scenes are also a bit underwhelming, as Vlad is moving so fast you don’t really get much time to look at what he’s doing, especially as the camera starts going all skakey when the action starts.

Universal have intended this film to be the first of several reboots of the Universal Monsters franchise, and a sequel to Dracula Untold is teased at the ending. With the tantalising end scenes I was surprised to find myself actually interested in a further Dracula movie.

Rating 3/5 – uneven but interesting version of everyone’s favourite vampire with a good central performance from Luke Evans

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