Rated: PG for some action violence, peril and frightening images. Reviewed by: Matt Release date: March 24, 2017 Released by: Walt Disney Pictures
In the year 1991, Disney released an animated film that helped define their company for nearly a decade. The original Disney's Beauty and the Beast became the first animated film to ever receive a nomination for best picture in the Academy Awards, an achievement that only 1 other animated film has done since. Now the year is 2017 and Disney has decided to remake the film into a live-action adaptation.
If you've seen the animated film then you will know the story of Beauty and the Beast as Disney does not change any of the major plot lines of the film. Belle (Emma Watson) is living in a small french town where everyone doesn't like her. Why? Because she happens to be educated and tends to keep to herself. She wishes there more to her life in the town as she is constantly trying to repel the unwanted affections of Gaston (Luke Evens), who is trying to marry Belle. However, when her gather Maurice (Kevin Kline) doesn't return home from a trip, Belle goes searching for him only to discover he is a prisoner in a castle that is home to a Beast (Dan Stevens). From there it is the exact story you remember. The only additions they seemed to add addressed plot holes found in the original (like how no one in the village was aware of a giant castle that was a short distance away from them).
What immediately stood out in this film was it's set designs and costumes. Everything in this film is well-detailed and is very impressive to look at. The costumes are also fantastically done and have a great variety to them. It was very obvious from the beginning set that took place in the Beast's castle before the curse that these small details were being payed attention to. The next thing I noticed were the characters. The main cast did a fantastic job portraying their animated counterparts while giving them their own spin. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens gave excellent performances as the title characters (even though Dan Stevens is only seen through his voice as his character is cgi). Luke Evens played a slightly more subtle but still very dangerous Gaston. And Josh Gad managed a very good LeFou. I believe that these performances are definitely on par, if not exceeds, the original film. The rest of the cast, while good for their roles didn't quite live up to the main cast.
There is something also to be said for the music of the film. Both Alan Menken and Howard Ashman returned to the film as the composer and lyricist. Because of that, the music and the musical numbers sound very nostalgic while giving them their own uniqueness. The songs "Belle" and "Gaston" are the stand outs of the original songs while "Be Our Guest" definitely works for the film. The film also added a few original musical numbers and they all work just fine but the standout from these songs is clearly "Evermore" which is a solo number by the Beast in the latter half of the film. "Evermore" in my opinion was one of the best songs in the film and will probably become a Beauty and the Beast classic.
If I were to complain about the film I would say that the pacing felt off. The best way I can describe it is that they took an hour long movie and stretched it out by another hour. At times the film seemed to drag its feet in many scenes while other important scenes seemed to go by too quickly, not giving it enough time to develop.
So overall Beauty and the Beast is a fantastic adaptation of the animated version. The acting, music and sets are all fantastic and really help this film stand out on its own, even if it is pretty much the exact same film as before. The question though for me is how it compares to the original. Sadly, and this isn't the fault of this film, it can't live up to the original. But to be fair it never could. The original set the bar and I'm afraid nostalgia will always have me feel that way. That being said, I did get that sense of awe and wonder that I got when I watched it when I was younger so I will not hold it against it. If you can, I would highly recommend seeing this film in theaters. And while it may not live up to the original, I believe that this film will stand on its own as a Disney classic.
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