The new live action remake of Beauty and the Beast from Disney starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the cursed prince turned monster has massive potential in terms of cross generational appeal, but the project is standing in a mighty big shadow. The original Beauty and the Beast from 1991 was the first animated feature to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and has a soundtrack that is simply unforgettable. I’m sure you’re humming “Be Our Guest” in your head right now as you read this. The movie is one of Disney’s Masterpieces and is still a fan favorite of little Disney Princesses both young and old to this day.
Instead of throwing the audience a curve ball like in Maleficent flipping the story on its head, The Mouse sticks to the same beats as before making a very faithful remake of the animated classic. If you have seen the 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast, then you have already seen this new film in a way. Peculiar French girl Belle is forced to save her imprisoned father from the cursed Beast by taking his place in the castle where he lives. Inside the castle all the furniture is alive and begin to tell Belle the story behind the Beast and what could save him before the last petal on the magical rose falls to the ground. For those looking for a change-up similar to The Jungle Book or more of an expansion to the original story like in Cinderella, you will not find that in this new live action adaptation. This new Beauty and the Beast sticks to the script for better or worse basically taking a shot for shot approach in many moments of the film.
There’s not many surprises in Beauty and the Beast, but that doesn’t mean this new film is not an enjoyable experience. Just like the source material this new movie tries to imitate, Beauty and the Beast is a visual extravaganza recreating many of the popular scenes and musical numbers fans adored. You’ll see Belle skip through her village, the Beast fight off wolves and of course the famous dance scene makes a beautiful appearance which will bring a smile to your face. Disney brings back all the songs we loved to sing along with and even adds a few new tunes that really weren’t needed for this new overall product. Those new tunes were surely added to expand the story and the movie does feel a little long at times in the remake’s 2 hour and 6 minute running time. Be warned parents, some of your little ones may begin to squirm in their seats by the time Beauty and the Beast is over.
Beauty and the Beast may give you the exact same story from 26 years ago, but luckily the cast shows up in a major way making the film an overall positive experience. Emma Watson is especially exceptional as Belle showing off her vocals and brings the innocence needed to play the sweet little bookworm. On the other side Dan Stevens does a serviceable job as the Beast, but is definitely lacking an edge. This Beast turns into a big teddy bear pretty quick in this remake. Luke Evans on the other hand delivers a scene stealing performance as the arrogant Gaston. Evans chews up every scene he is in with his loyal little buddy Le Fou played by the always entertaining Josh Gad. The human cast does their parts, but the real stars are the furniture in the castle that come to life in grand fashion thanks to superb voice casting of fan favorites including Ewan McGregor as Lumière, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts and standout Ian McKellen as the grumpy Clock Cogsworth. The excellent cast carries this film through very familiar territory and turns Beauty and the Beast into a spectacle that is worth watching even if it doesn’t come close to matching the original animated classic.
Overall, I give Beauty and the Beast just barely 3 out of 4 stars.
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