Disney’s new fixation with remaking or adapting their beloved animated films has been hit or miss. Cinderella and Jungle Book were both really good, but Maleficent was pretty awful. The trailers from Beauty and the Beast were promising, but the film ultimately felt like a poor reflection of the animated feature from 1991. That’s not to say it falls into the realm of Maleficent, but it doesn’t do much to add to the legacy left by it’s predecessor.
Beauty and the Beast works in some ways and lacks in others.
Belle (Emma Watson) is a beautiful girl, but considered to be odd by the other members of the town. After her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) goes missing Belle finds him locked inside a castle guarded by a monstrous Beast (Dan Stevens). She volunteers to stay in his place and the curse of the castle begins to reveal itself.
There is a lot of good in this film with the cast being the strongest element. Emma Watson, Josh Gad, Luke Evans, and Dan Stevens really stand out. Josh Gad’s take on LeFou made him a much more likeable and sympathetic character than he was in the original. Watson and Stevens have great chemistry and, even through the motion captured CG, they definitely connect in a powerful way. Luke Evans manages to offer a very great take on Gaston and is every bit as despicable.
It’s not to say that the beloved household objects from the animated aren’t great too. Ewan McGregor as Lumière is pretty amazing. Equally great is Emma Thompson as Mrs Potts who really captures the spirit of that character. Unfortunately, Ian McKellen didn’t elicit the same response with his take on Cogsworth.
Not all of the adaptation works
What really didn’t work in this movie was everything that wasn’t in the original film. None of the original ideas really seemed necessary and the new songs were not as good as the originals. It’s interesting to compare this film to last years Jungle Book as John Favreau opted to only keep two musical performances in the live action adaptation. Beauty and the Beast added at least three new songs and none really worked. The original songs were still good even though its take on “Be Our Guests” isn’t as good as the original.
The new scenes that are added include backstory on the prince’s family. Yet, it’s not really effective and it’s too short. They also spend some more time with Belle’s family and alter her father’s story a bit. The change in Maurice works fairly well, but most of the other scenes have that familiar feel that a lot of remakes have done. They over explain and attempt to add new tangents to the story that are often better left unexplored.
Beauty and the Beast is pretty solid, but not amazing. It doesn’t stand alone from the animated version nor is it as good. It’s not a bad movie either. My wife and daughter really loved it, but I give it the Decent Watch rating.