It’s finally here, the live action telling of a beloved story that Disney made memorable years ago. Yes, I’m talking about Beauty and The Beast my friends, and tonight I’m here to share my thoughts. Now let’s get this laid down now, I’m going to look at it as its own movie and do my best to minimize the masterpiece. So please don’t cast aside the review if I tread on any ground. With that said, let’s get started to see if the modern retelling has what it takes to stand out in the world.
- Follows the Classic Plot Well
- The Setting is beautiful
- Animation (for the most part)
- Casting is well-done
- Cogsworth and Lumiere
Summary: You may hear others say the movie is spot on with the 1991 telling. Not entirely true, but this rendition keeps about 80% of the Tale as Old as Time to please the classic fans, while adding some tangents to give it a twist. To quote a friend, “the new spins are built around the fans from the 90s generation to entertain”. It works for the most part, adding depth to the characters and giving the emotional kick older audience members will appreciate. And while sticking to the story is good start, the next magical step is how well they brought it to life in the visuals. Beauty and The Beasts charming country side and castles, are brought out in spectacular detail via breathtaking scenery shots and detail oriented settings that are worthy of recognition. Next dress our characters in wonderful costumes fitting of the landscape, with special emphasis on the traditional Belle Dress and Beast coat that remains timeless, and you again get more magic. Finally add in the animation, realistic, fluid, and somewhat mirroring the classic style most fell in love with, and you have a great combination. Of note, there are times when things get trippy, or not done quite as well, but overall solid around. All in all, Disney’s abilities to blend these elements together are impressive, and this reviewer gives them their well-deserved props.
In terms of casting, there is a mixed response to the cast assembled. Again, they are not the originals (which I did miss), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t bad just the same. Emma Watson is charming, smart, and courageous (all elements we have seen just without the wand), which works for the protagonist. Dan Stevens I guess does well for the few scenes he isn’t covered in CGI fir, but in his monstrous form delivers his lines with surprising depth. But it is Lumiere and Cogsworth who stole the show for me. I worried, I’d be robbed of their relationship, but that wasn’t the case. Ewen McGreggor and Ian McKellan stepped up the role, delivering their well-written lines that had me laughing in delight. The rest did well, but I need to move on, so let’s just say for the most part, this movie’s casting was well-done.
- The Music
- Le Fou’s Changes (at times)
- Times Forced Acting
- Coincidental Moments
- Missing Charm of 1991
Summary: The music, a staple of Beauty and The Beast that is almost as timeless as the story. This rendition has put their own spin on it, while trying to keep the backbone of the original. Most numbers work, albeit obviously auto-tuned and missing some of the magic, with their own whim, but the song Gaston was a number I did not enjoy for everything it lacked. Ironically the original tunes I found to be better composed, packed with emotion and not seeming a diluted version, but its weakness came in how they seemed randomly thrown in (yes in an effort to add more emotional develop to the cast). Overall the changes aren’t absolutely awful, they just didn’t have the same bite as the classics did, unless you count shock factor from either some cheesiness/trippiness).
Other changes that I didn’t quite like were Le Fou’s changes. Le Fou is supposed to be his name sake, the fool who is comedic relief as the joke, before getting his just desserts. Josh Gadd’s rendition wasn’t so much a fool, as a smart alec, clingy, admirer who made slick comments and kept his idol at bay. Again, the deeper development is appreciated, but this drastic change kind of meant his name should have been changed as well, perhaps to Petit Malin?
Changes aside, the acting is capable of bringing the characters to life, but there are moments where things are a little forced. Some of the Beasts Temper tantrums, a few of Belle’s stoic speeches, and Gaston’s attempts to be devious, all of these hit their overacted moments at times. Maurice in particular had the worst delivery of them all, the eccentrics lost to just bad delivery and over exaggeration. And while this made me laugh, there were a few conventional moments that were a bit cheesy (as stated by some in the movie). Most of these coincidental moments are ignorable, but one scene in particular was an anticlimactic finish at the end where something just happened to break at the right time.
All of these moments alone aren’t too bad, but many of the changes brought into this film brought it more into the adult/realistic and took away from the fun, whimsical nature of the movie. The design of the characters, the emotional subplots, even the music were lacking that element of childlike fun that made the movie so memorable for me. Doesn’t mean it isn’t still entertaining, I just really missed that element.
With the big shoes the original left, this telling did a decent job appealing to many. It is a well-developed remake of the story, with a wonderful cast and setting to bring it to life and capture your heart. While the music didn’t quite reach the same heights, and some changes took away the energy, this film certainly has much of the magic that rose promised years ago. Go in there with a clear mind and try not to compare, and you’ll be fine. I recommend this for a theater visit (as if I could stop you) and hope you enjoy.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 7.0