Beauty and the Beast is one of the most treasured Disney films ever made. It was the second film to be placed in the Walt Disney Signature Collection and with the 25th anniversary taking place last year, the remake starring Emma Watson as Belle was on many fans’ list for most anticipated movies of 2017. I love the original Beauty and the Beast. It’s one of the most beautiful and well-crafted Disney films ever made, so you’re damn right I was hyped for this remake. But as it does a lot of the time, anticipation comes with a price: disappointment.
It’s safe to say that this version of Beauty and the Beast isn’t a terrible film. But it isn’t a great one either. It’s kind of a mess when compared to its practically flawless original counterpart. It really isn’t fair to compare the two films because they’re pretty different in many ways. The original is practically untouchable because of how iconic it has become, and because of the following, it has gained over the past two and a half decades.
I had no doubt in my mind that this wasn’t going to match the quality of the original, but I never thought it would disappoint me as much as it did. There’s just so much in the film that can’t match up to the original. However, there are some things that are quite enjoyable about it, so let’s discuss those first.
The cast in this movie is amazing. There really isn’t any other way to put it. Emma Watson is good as Belle. Dan Stevens (who I loved in FX’s Legion) is very good and compelling as the Beast. Kevin Kline is great as Maurice, Belle’s father, and of course…Luke Evans as Gaston. This dude is freaking incredible. His performance may even be better than Richard White’s in the original 1991 film. Another thing to enjoy (no surprise here) is the visual effects, which are admittedly stunning, especially for the Beast. Every scene just looks and feels like a fairy tale, and while I missed this in theaters, it’s worth seeing on Blu-Ray too.
Josh Gad as LeFou was also a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed him in Frozen (2013), but he really makes himself at home here, working in comedy to a character whose main purpose in the story is, well, comedy. Since the character is more human (in more ways than one) in this film, he’s another one of the standouts.
Now, onto my issues with the movie. If you couldn’t tell already, there a lot, so bear with me. I’m going to start by saying that there is a boatload of tonal inconsistency in this film. From the trailers, I could tell that this was going to be a much darker take on the original classic, and it is. But it tries way too hard to be dark, funny, and heartwarming all at the same time and it gets in the way of full enjoyment. I also didn’t really enjoy Emma Watson’s singing. I mean, come on, nobody can beat Paige O’Hara, but this was a very unenjoyable part for me. It ran hot & cold with me. Sometimes it was alright, and sometimes it wasn’t.
I’m sure many people will disagree, but I also didn’t like the lengthened opening. There’s just something about the stained-glass simplicity in the original that makes it enjoyable, but throwing a whole new song into the prologue and showing the Prince’s party? Not going to fly. Why can’t we just stick to the basics anymore, huh? I get that the filmmakers wanted to showcase the CGI before the movie got rolling, but this was just unnecessary. Speaking of unnecessary…
There are very many unneeded changes in this movie that I hated, and I mean hated. Belle’s bookworm personality is showcased, but the whole library scene, in the beginning, is toned down. Emma Watson just doesn’t deliver enough enthusiasm as Paige O’Hara could. Mind you, she didn’t have to make facial expressions in front of a camera, but you can hear in her voice how much fun she’s having.
The climax was way too CGI-reliant, something films nowadays can’t seem to get a grip on. It’s not that the CGI is bad, but it’s over utilized and that drags this sequences down quite a bit.
If you’re looking for a film that is consistently entertaining and is good for the whole family, I recommend this wholeheartedly. However, if you want an amazing adaptation of an animated classic, you definitely won’t find it here. I’m going to give Beauty and the Beast a C.
Beauty and the Beast stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson. Directed by Bill Condon.