Review: Beauty and the Beast

A tale as old as time…my review as old as opening weekend. While I admit that was an awful joke, the actual movie was anything but. Beauty and the Beast is the latest live action re-imagining based on the classic, arguably one of the greatest, Disney animated films of all time. I have to admit; I was very skeptical of this live action adaptation of the 1991 masterpiece because of how perfect the original is. Those are very big shoes to fill. I went into the film with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Now, by no means is this film as good or better than the original, but I do think director Bill Condon and screenwriters Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos did a great job and I will definitely be watching it again.

The movie succeeded in my mind based on three important criteria, casting, additional content, and the overall look of the film. Josh Gad played a perfect LeFou, Gaston’s bumbling sidekick. He really hit the mark with his excellent vocals in “Gaston” and was just the right mix of funny, charming, and needy that lifted this characters story. Luke Evans also shined as Gaston. His vocal chops were great and kept Gaston in his narcissistic, tough guy, clueless element without crossing the threshold into a character you greatly despise. Emma Watson played a fantastic Belle despite my pre-conceived notions that she might not be right for the part. She still looks young enough to play a 17-year-old Belle despite the fact that she’s 26. While it did sound like some of her vocals were a bit over produced I thought she still sounded good and fit the role well. Its now hard for me to think of someone who could play the role better. The rest of the cast was fantastic as well – Kevin Kline as Maurice, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, Dan Stevens as Beast, among others, complimented the film nicely.

The look of the film was sublime. All the details inside of the Beast’s castle to the background elements in the village of Villeneuve, everything looked like it belonged and could be a real place in France. One of the things that worried me the most about this film before I saw it was the depiction of Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, etc. The characters are very small but were exquisitely elegant and charming. It probably helps that CGI has come a long way in the last decade or so. All of the costuming was magnificent and it wouldn’t surprise me if the film were nominated for an Oscar. One of my favorite moments of the film, just like the original, was the “Be Our Guest” number. At one point during this scene I felt like I was in Disney World watching a 3-D show like Mickey’s Philharmagic. I was just waiting for artificial food smells to be pumped out of some vents in the theater.

The last major point I will bring up is the additions to the film. I don’t think anyone wants to watch a complete shot for shot remake of a film but at the same time might not be too keen on a complete overhaul to where you don’t know what happened to the original movie that you love. One of the coolest things Disney has done in my opinion with the remakes is add new content and a put a different twist on the story. Case in point – Maleficent and Pete’s Dragon. Now with that said, Disney doesn’t alter too much or change the story drastically here, but what they did nicely was add a couple of new songs and develop the characters more. For example, Beast has a lovely song right after Belle is released to go help her father. I thought the song added some emotion and depth to the character and to his and Belle’s relationship. The movie ends with a fun dance number that includes everyone, not just Belle and Beast, as well as some fun comedic moments.

I recommend the film for sure. The look and feel is fun and refreshing. Alan Menken is back to provide the musical score. The songs will make you want to sing along. It’s an overall good time movie.

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