Beauty and the Beast
“Tale as old as time.”
Boy what a cinematic experience the original beauty and the beast was. With besotting animation and enchanting voice acting, audiences were smitten beyond compare, and they really could not ask for anything more. Fast-forward 26 years, and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast makes the leap to live-action, and it was exactly what I was asking for!
As an admirer and a firm adorer of Beauty and the Beast (1991), I had high expectations for this film. I went in with a mindset of sheer greatness, and Bill Condon did not disappoint, at least not entirely. The pros grossly outnumber the cons in this epic, sweeping timeless tale, and while some of the cons stick out like a sore thumb, the others are rather negligible, and shouldn’t affect the watcher during their roughly 2 hour viewing period.
Unsurprisingly, Emma Watson knocks it out of the park as Belle. Her acting is believable, sweet and unavoidably cute, as she manages to do the character justice. The character is rather similar to Hermione Granger, a character from the Harry Potter franchise, played by Emma Watson herself, but this helps her performance, rather than making it seem stale and uninspiring. Dan Stevens’ beasts is well developed, and that’s because of his performance. His voice was perfect for the role, and the motion capture was really something spectacular. All the living housewares did splendid jobs, namely Ewan Mcgregor as Lumiere, and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, with their undying charisma and endearing character moments. The stand out performance in the film however, is Luke Evans as Gaston. He was kinetic, mesmerizing and beguiling, in a role it seems he was born to play. Josh Gad plays Lefou, Gaston’s loyal companion and his incredibly conspicuous admirer, and their chemistry is as off the charts. As far as performances go, this movie has a lot to offer, and it does not disappoint.
As it is a remake, and we’ve seen and heard this story be told before, the story could feel dragged, or formulaic at times, but, the movie does a good job of changing a few things from the animated that either weren’t clear, or could have used a little more explaining. The backstory of Belle’s parentage aside from her father was explored in this film, and it provided a strong and rigid backbone for Belle’s character and motivations that just weren’t present in the animated classic. The new additions to the songs were great, wonderfully composed pieces of art; although they fail to reach the astronomical heights their predecessors had reached.
The re-telling of the scenes of classic songs such as: “Belle” “Beauty and the Beast” “Be Our Guest” and “Gaston” are all phenomenally executed, putting to sleep all the naysayers that didn’t believe such scenes could be re-made. The acute precision and creative eye Bill Condon utilized during these scenes is surely something to be commended. In particular, the be our guest scene was my favorite, as it boasted existential visuals that made me smile widely for the whole sequence, even though Beauty and the Beast is actually my favorite Disney song of all time.
Now, what this film does badly, is not much, but some are very visible. The visage of beast was quite jarring, and occasionally took me out of the movie. Sometimes the CG works great for the beast, other times its difficult to believe that the “beast” isn’t just a man with a green screen plastered on his face. The animation for the beast as well isn’t exactly top notch. There are some sequences that seem way too stiff and choppy to be a real creature moving, and some head movements are just too slow to be realistic, and they often end up being unreasonable. While this is not entirely her fault, Emma Watson simply is not as spectacular a singer as the Belle from the original, and at times you might wish she had that depth and vigor to her voice that the first Belle brought. Ultimately, the singing was tremendous by all the cast, but some members lacked the certain level of gravitas needed to compete with their animated counterparts.
Beauty and the Beast is indeed a tale as old as time, with wonderful visuals for the most part, enchanting songs, and a stable story to tie it all together for one hell of a re-make. Disney really hasn’t disappointed in this new season of live action re-imaginings, and Beauty and the Beast is no different.
Voice Acting/ Acting: 9
Story telling: 8
Character Development: 9
Source Material Faithfulness: 10