As the Disney juggernaut rolls on, the studio has released a live action adaptation of one of their most beloved animated films, Beauty and the Beast. And now, Another Bloody Critic invites you to be our guest and delve into the merits of this new retelling of a tale as old as time.
Disney have had mixed success with these live-action remakes of their classic catalogue, ranging from the outstanding success of last year’s The Jungle Book to the CGI mess that is the Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland films. Beauty falls right in the middle of those two. Like Cinderella before it, this is a charming movie that takes almost no risks whatsoever.
For those who don’t know what this story is about, first off – welcome to the planet, please enjoy your stay. This film follows the story of a selfish Prince whose act of cruelty to an old lady sees his entire household cursed – the Prince is transformed into a hideous Beast, and all of his servants are turned into household objects. The only way the spell can be broken is by true love, and when a young girl named Belle comes across the castle, there may be hope for them all yet. It’s Beauty and the bloody Beast, you know the story, I’m gonna move on.
It’s a taaaale as old as tiiiiiime
(Sorry. Couldn’t resist)
The most obvious thing to say about this movie is that, of all the reimaginings the Disney have made, this one is the most similar to the original film. In fact, so much of the films is concerned with recreating the original film that it does sometimes make you wonder why this one was made in the first place. Afterall, the cartoon still holds up – it was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards!!! – and is readily available on BluRay. But we got this version anyway, and it does add some nice scenes and line changes, with a couple of extra songs scattered around the place to keep it feeling interesting. So, I’ll take it I suppose.
The film’s cast is its major strength, although that doesn’t necessarily extend to the title characters. Dan Stevens does a fine job as the Beast, and Emma Watson is charming enough as Belle, but both actors are capable of better. Watson in particular is an Oscar winner waiting to happen. But both leads were outshone by an outstanding support cast. In particular, Luke Evans nailed the role of the vain and arrogant Gaston, and looked to be having a whole lot of fun in the process, while every line spoken by Cogsworth (voiced by Ian McKellan) was pure gold. The rest of the supporting cast, including Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Kline, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Emma Thompson, all had outstanding moments as well. It felt like a great ensemble piece, which is what you want from a musical like this.
The singing was mostly excellent. Many people prior to this films release expressed concern over Watson’s ability to sing, and God only knows I can’t exactly criticize, but she certainly doesn’t disgrace herself. She’s not going to be earning any record contracts, but she does what was needed for the film and there’s no real concern there in my book.
Hollywood has done worse….
It’s hard to be critical of this film because it tried so hard to be a copy of the original (brilliant) cartoon, but that in itself is it’s greatest weakness. The Jungle Book (2016) was such an outstanding movie because it isolated what was outdated or simply didn’t work in the original cartoon, and changed the story around. It was a risk, people could have simply hated it, but it worked. Beauty and the Beast runs for most of the film on pure nostalgia, and while that’s nice, it isn’t enough to create a masterpiece. Merely a good movie. But what more can we really ask for?
3.7/5 – A fine retelling of a classic story.