Can Disney keep their winning streak going?
Beauty and the Beast is a 2017 live-action remake of the 1991 Disney animated film of the same name. This one stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellan, and Josh Gad.
The story/plot is largely the same as the animated film, which is based on Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's fairy tale of the same name. An elderly beggar woman approaches the castle of a young and arrogant prince one night. The beggar woman asks for shelter from the bitter cold for the night, offering a rose as payment. The prince rebuffs the woman, who then transforms herself into a gallant enchantress who turns the prince into a hairy and hideous Beast. The enchantress also turns all of the servants into household items. The enchantress warns the Beast prince that if he does not learn to love another and earn that person's love in return, he will remain a Beast forever. The Beast has until the last petal falls from the rose that the enchantress had offered before. Elsewhere, young bookworm girl Belle (Watson) has become progressively unsatisfied with her life in her village home. Belle lives with her father Maurice (Kline), and she must also deal with the advances of self-centered hunter, Gaston (Evans).
The unstoppable hulk that is Disney has been hitting the nail right on the head with just about everything that they have dished out to us for the past several years. If Star Wars and some of their recent animated smash hits Zootopia and Moana weren't enough, their live action updates like The Jungle Book and Pete's Dragon have me convinced that Disney just can't go wrong. Slap the word Disney on pretty much any film now, and people will come in droves.
If anyone should know anything about the 1991 animated Beauty and the Beast, it's that it was the first time in history that an animated film was nominated for Best Picture. For that, I cannot help but feel slightly bothered about this live action take on what was not only a golden moment in Disney's history, but a treasured moment in the history of animation as well. Now, mind you, this was one of my most anticipated films of the year, and I will tell you right now that the film does not disappoint at all. But whatever feelings you might have towards this 2017 version, they may be heavily influenced by your perception of the 1991 animated film.
- Emma Watson as Belle. Watson is very suitable for the role of Belle, and her charming presence gives the film major uplift. Her time as Hermione Granger (who also just happened to be a bookworm) proved that Watson can deliver an arsenal of emotions from joyful laughing to tearful grieving. Here, Watson nicely balances jubilant romance and gloomy sadness without overdoing either one.
- The visuals. Beauty and the Beast provides lush cinematography and vibrant costumes that make the film quite lovely to look at. Lumiere singing Be Our Guest is the top highlights when it comes to visual appeal. The look of the Beast is perfectly acceptable, although I think he more highly represents a water buffalo (the horns!) than a furry monster.
- This live action Beauty and the Beast does a fine job with hanging close to its source material, but that might be the biggest problem too. The film never really takes any risks with any part of its story. The only prominent upgrades are the lengthened "fight" scene when the villagers storm the castle, and when we get a full depiction of what goes down in the beginning when the prince denies shelter to the enchantress. The animated film just shows us pictures of the enchantress visiting the prince's castle and her turning him into a Beast. Everything just seems to feel like an almost beat-for-beat retelling of the animated film. The live action take just happens to be about forty minutes longer. If you go into this film having not seen the animated film or not having it somewhat present in your mind, then this low point does not apply to you. But for the rest of us that have seen the Disney animated classic, it is flat out impossible for us to resist making even the tiniest bit of a comparison. When was there ever a time when someone never compared an older movie to its newer adaptation?
While this Beauty and the Beast may seem a little too conservative, it's still a visual treat that never overwhelms its romance, humor, or characters. Luke Evans is delightfully bombastic as the hunky and narcissistic Gaston. It might be best to block your brain from worsening your movie-going experience by interpreting Gaston's sidekick LaFou as being gay, even though the movie seems to hint at him being so on several occasions. Go read about it online. It's caused quite an uproar, so I've heard. Emma Watson shines as Belle, and the musical numbers all make for a lovely soundtrack that you might be humming to for a couple of days. People of all ages can enjoy this film, and it's further proof that Disney's dominance is still alive and well.
Recommend? Yes, though for some, having seen the 1991 animated film beforehand might diminish the experience a little bit.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: