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Dan Stevens and Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast.

As a fairy-tale village brimming over with colour and activity erupts into song and dance, it is a bit hard to see how Belle could possibly be bored by provincial life. Disney's live-action revival of the Beauty and the Beast franchise is nothing if not lively, albeit occasionally overwrought: The dinnerware's number, Be Our Guest, turns into a hallucinogenic sequence worthy of Busby Berkeley. The CGI versions of Cogsworth the clock, Lumière the candlestick and the rest of the gang are amusingly convincing, perhaps too convincing for their own good as they do lose some of the anthropomorphic frisson provided by real people in costumes back in the days of the stage show. But the real people – Emma Watson as a firm and earnest Belle; Luke Evans as a deliciously obnoxious Gaston; Josh Gad as his simpering sidekick LeFou; and, of course, a sexy Dan Stevens beneath the Beast's hair and horns – add real energy and intelligence to Disney's most politically palatable version of the fairy tale yet.