We’ve known for quite some time that Hollywood, by and large, is completely out of new ideas. Every few years, one studio or another will have the “brilliant” idea to reboot, refresh, re-imagine, re-treat, etc. a film from the past. I’m not sure that the 2017 live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast necessarily falls into any of those exact categories, Disney just knows that with only a little bit of work on their part, the movie will make stupid amounts of money. Is the Beauty and the Beast live-action remake another winner for the House of Mouse? Keep reading this review to find out.
I strive to keep my movie reviews spoiler-free, but really, you’ve probably seen this movie before so I’m not going to bother talking too much about the story here. While it’s not a shot-for-shot remake of the 1991 animated feature, it’s pretty darn close. There are several additions to the story that fill a few holes left in the original, which are appreciated. Otherwise, the film faithfully retells the story of Belle as she deals with Stockholm Syndrome in 1700’s France.
The main cast really did a very good job. Emma Watson was, of course, an amazing Belle, Kevin Kline fit perfectly as her somewhat eccentric father, Maurice. Luke Evans successfully portrays the appropriate level of swagger and bravado to pull off Gaston, while Josh Gad’s LeFou is a good yin to Gaston’s yang. The whole outcry over this portrayal of LeFou is really pretty silly, but that’s a story for another time.
Dan Stevens’ Beast was mostly pretty good, though as with most CGI characters, Beast’s movement was kind of janky, and he suffered from some unusual re-sizing throughout. In some areas, Belle appeared to come up to Beast’s chin, while in other parts he seemed at least a foot or two taller. Aside from a few other CGI misses, the Beast portrayal was good. I would have preferred a more practical design here, but what we got was at least acceptable.
The rest of the castle staff — Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, etc. — looked good in their CGI getup, though some of the character movement was so fast that it tended to blur a bit into the largely CGI background. Lumiere and Chip were the worst offenders here, particularly Lumiere who was constantly running and jumping around. The ensemble and remaining human cast were all dressed appropriately for the time period, and nobody looked out of place.
The visuals overall were really quite good, though, with breathtaking landscapes, appropriate housing, effective costumes, and detailed set pieces.
Last, but absolutely not least, is the singing. This is a movie where you probably already know a few of the songs by heart, and those songs remain largely true to their roots. The handful of new songs fit the style, mood, and characteristics of this movie, and definitely add rather than detract from it. Some of the ensemble singing on the larger group numbers was somewhat difficult to understand, though part of that could have been because the speakers in the theater I was in were quite loud. Individual singing was clear and easily understood.
This isn’t a movie that was made for nostalgia and to sate the desires of adults who grew up on the original animated feature, but rather this movie was made to hook those adults’ kids, and get them into the fold. All in all, it wasn’t a bad movie by any means, but it just kind of lacked a little bit of the Disney Magic that we’ve seen in most of their other features. People are still going to see this movie, I know that anything I say here probably won’t deter anyone from seeing it — and it shouldn’t, it is still an entertaining movie — but if you grew up loving the original, you might find a few parts of this remake lacking.