Beauty and the Beast (2017) review
When I was helping my parents move a couple of years ago, I came across a bunch of old photos, including an old Halloween picture of me dressed as Lumière when I was five. Yes, Beauty and the Beast was that wonderful animated movie that everyone has pretty much seen. It’s my all time favorite of the traditional fairy tale stories from Disney, and for good reason. The characters are perfect, the animation is perfect, the songs are perfect, and the story is perfect. It was also the first animated movie to receive a best picture nomination at the Oscars and has a long running Broadway show.
It remains one of Disney’s most popular and profitable movies of all time, so it made sense that they would want to return to it. Given how Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book live action remakes have done incredibly well, it seems that this tale as old as time would be eyed for that same fate. What’s difficult about adapting this story in this manner is figuring out what to expand. The other movies had a lot of areas from their stories to explore into, but how do you expand the world of Beauty and the Beast? ...let’s see.
Like in the animated movie, a vain prince turns away an ugly old woman from his castle, despite being warned about inner beauty. When he dismisses her again, she reveals herself an sorceress and transforms him into the Beast (played by Dan Stevens) and a curse is placed on the castle and everyone inside.
Cut to twenty years later where a book obsessed young woman Belle (played by Emma Watson) makes the best of her life within her small French village. Former army captain and hunter Gaston (played by Luke Evans) eyes her as a wife, but she wants nothing to do with it.
When Belles father Maurice (played by Kevin Kline) ends up locked up in the castle that he stumbled upon, Belle goes there to get him out. Though the Beast frightens her, she agrees to take her fathers place. This makes her a prisoner, but she gets a nice room. Helping them out is candlestick Lumière (played by Ewan McGregor), clock Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Teapot Mrs. Potts (played by Emma Thompson). A romance seems to bloom for Belle and the Beast, but Gaston and help from his friend Lefou (played by Josh Gad) are trying to stop it.
It’s amazing just how close this movie follows the original Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately, it follows it way too close. While it’s not completely shot-for-shot (like the Psycho remake), there are plenty of moments when it feels like the idea was to take many of the famous images from the animated movie and do it again. I guess I can say what’s different is the look. A lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s live action, but the production value is gorgeous. I’ll bet a million dollars that this wins a lot of the Oscars next year for costume, makeup, and production design.
How does the cast stack up? They seem to do alright. The best newcomers are Kevin Kline and Josh Gad as they seemed to be the only ones to really bring something new to their characters. The rest like Ewan McGregor, Luke Evans and Ian McKellen do fine, but the worst has to be the films main character Belle, Emma Watson. Not only is it clear that they auto tuned her voice for the songs, but she still looks too much like a girl while I had pictured Belle as a woman (Olivia Wilde would have been my choice).
I’ll give this three Lumière candlesticks out of five. On it’s own, it’s okay to sometimes good. I can see a lot of people getting swept up in the world more then the characters. It’s just that I’ll always be comparing this to the superior animated movie. I see this as totally pointless, but my theater clapped at the end, so I’m sure it’ll make a lot of people happy at least. Your invited to be the movie’s guest, but I’ll decline the next invitation.