“Beauty and the Beast” is directed by Bill Condon and stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, and Ian McKellen. The film is an adaptation of the 1991 animated film of the same name and is about a woman named Belle who finds her father trapped in a castle, and from there, she runs into a terrifying beast who is under a curse that only true love can fix.
This is a movie that I was very excited to see, as Disney has been on a hot streak with their live action remakes of “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book,” and “Pete’s Dragon.” Along with this, the animated “Beauty and the Beast” film is one of my all-time Disney favorites, so I was very hopeful and incredibly curious to see how they would remake this animated classic.
The visual effects of the Beast and his workers are all excellently updated into live action here, with characters like Cogsworth and Lumiére being beautifully created to look similar enough to the original to be recognizable, but also original in flare and style to stand out. The costumes are also a visual feast, with Belle’s dresses and the apparel of the village and the beast all being perfectly created.
There are some real solid performances from the huge cast here, with Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen being my favorites of them all. As Lumiére and Cogsworth, these two both have tremendous chemistry and work well off each other to make the largest laughs of the entire film.
Josh Gad, whose portrayal of LeFou has been put under some controversy, had a lot of comedic relief resting on his shoulders, and he was able to land the majority of his jokes very well. Gad, who got on my nerves quickly in “Pixels” and “The Angry Birds Movie” is able to stand out positively as Gaston’s sidekick and bring some much needed up to date humor to the story. As for the controversy, sure, there are two or three scenes in which the relationship between Gaston and LeFou alludes to some homosexual tendencies, but there is 100 percent no need for this massive uproar that has taken place, as it does not get in the way of the plot whatsoever.
While I think Emma Watson is perfectly acceptable in the lead role of Belle here, it is Dan Stevens who shines in the role of the Beast. Stevens brings some excellent layers to the character and even the occasional line of humor, and he has the ability to really sell each of the lines that he is delivering, making the chemistry between him and Watson more believable.
The songs are mostly the same from the original film, with “Be Our Guest” once again being the shining song from the movie, and the one that I remember the most. Yeah, the title track is here and that is fine and dandy, but it is “Be Our Guest” that stuck with me 26 years ago, and it will be the one that plays back in my head for weeks to come.
Keeping all of the classic songs was cool, but also ended up being a little disappointing, considering not all of them were as well performed as they were in 1991. Hearing these classics come back without the same flair and energy ended up taking the wind out from a lot of the songs that were meant to be the highlights. While there were certainly some really great songs, they were more of the exception that the norm in this film.
The songs weren’t the only things that felt a little stale, as most of the movie fell under the shadow of the animated original. Remakes shine when they can improve or branch out from its source material, but this movie follows way too closely to the original to do that, as almost every character, every scene, and every line feels like a slightly inferior version of a movie that I’ve already seen, and it left me feeling fatigued watching this film more than anything.
Director Bill Condon had the opportunity to explore more into concepts that were missed in the animated classic, while also clearing up some parts of the plot that felt as if they were lacking. Instead, this movie foolishly looks at the same concepts and misses out on the same parts of the story, and just feels lesser in comparison to such a tremendous original.
Most of the actors fit in well with their iconic characters, but Luke Evans and Kevin Kline are two that I could not get behind. Evans makes Gaston even more cartoony than when he was literally a cartoon, and while he had a few jokes that worked, much of his performance felt too over the top. Kline as Belle’s father felt a bit lost, and never brought much to the table as far as personality, and I just felt a lacking presence from him in most of the scenes that he was in.
This is certainly a film that was made specifically for those who are fans of the original, as this plot is incredibly messy and stuffed to the brim for those who are being introduced to all of these characters for the first time. Even with an over two hour runtime, this film doesn’t really bring in much for a new, younger crowd, instead going with the safe choice and attempting to make the same fans even happier a second time around.
“Beauty and the Beast” excels in its top of the line animation and with many of its acting performances, while also benefitting from many of the same successes that the animated classic had in 1991. The problems come with just how unoriginal the movie feels, as this live action rendition doesn’t have nearly the same amount of emotion, comedy, or intrigue, and it left me quite uninterested by the time the credits rolled. I am totally on board with remakes when they feel as if they serve a purpose, something Disney has done tremendously with their recent efforts, but that hot streak ends with this film. Instead of feeling new and fresh, this new “Beauty and the Beast” film falls flat, and feels like a movie made more for box office revenue than anything else.
What did you think of “Beauty and the Beast”? Comment below with your thoughts.