Disney is back at it adapting another one of their beloved animated films into a live action movie. After the success of Jungle Book last year I can’t say i’m surprised that Disney is deciding to move forward with adapting more of their classics. Very few of these adaptations will hold the weight of a movie like Beauty and the Beast. A movie that has the honor of being one of the few animated movies to ever be nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards. Could they capture the magic and deliver on this retelling of a tale as old as time? It certainly has some big shoes to fill.
There are several high points in Beauty and the Beast. One of those is definitely the casting. Every single actor in this film came across as the perfect embodiment of the character they portrayed. I have to give them serious credit for being able to pull this off. When I first saw Emma Watson as Belle I figured she would be good in the role. As I watched the film I realized how great of a choice she was. Luke Evans as Gaston was my absolute favorite in the film. He gave his all to the role and he had me laughing plenty of times. I don’t see anyone who could have done that better. Josh Gad as Lefou fit in very well too. His background as a stage performer helped him a lot in this movie. He fit right in and had some funny moments himself. Dan Stevens as The Beast was someone I was iffy about as I watched the trailers and I felt that he came through as well. He did great with what he was able to control about the character (more on that later). All of the appliances in the castle were great additions. Of them all I enjoyed Ewan McGregor’s performance as Lumiere the most. Him and Cogsworth (portrayed by Ian McKellen) played off of each other in a way that was both funny and sincere. I couldn’t be happier with the cast here.
Probably the biggest challenge that this movie had was taking the iconic songs and having them live up to insane expectations. It shocked the hell out of me, but they did just that. The songs were fantastic and performed beautifully by the actors. None of these performances were as energized as “Gaston” was. It’s a numbered performed by both Josh Gad and Luke Evans and they bring life to the song and make it their own. That is far from the only great performance though. “Be Our Guest” was a favorite of mine in the original movie and Ewan McGregor was able to elevate the song. I know most people are wondering how the ballroom dance scene went and i’m here to let you know that it was fantastic. When you’re adapting one of the most iconic scenes in animated movie history you have to go all out, and they sure did. They played up the moment perfectly and made it matter to the audience. It was one of those moments that you know the movie is going to be known for, just like the animated movie was.
Not everything is perfect though. One of the problems I had would probably be small to other people, but it took me out of the movie a couple of times. The CGI on The Beast was very inconsistent. While at times it looks fantastic, other times it looks like it’s layered terribly and sticks out like a sore thumb. Some of it was really blurry and looked like it was put together by amateurs.
The pacing caught me off guard in the movie as well. I didn’t expect for the movie to move as fast as it did. While I appreciate that they wanted to get to the point, that approach didn’t always hit home with me. The problem with moving so fast is that it doesn’t give me enough time to digest the emotional moments. Also, the sense of progression in the story reminded me of Doctor Strange (that’s not a good thing). The relationship between Belle and the Beast changed very quickly so it was hard for me to buy their relationship flourishing the way it did. I would have loved if they would have spent a little more time developing it. It could have helped Belle develop as a character as well because she didn’t have much character development.
They did decide to add a few things to this version of the film though. They added more detail about Belle’s mom. I thought those scenes were great and welcomed additions. They also added that Lefou is now a gay character. Wait so he wasn’t gay before? Seriously, if that was your deal breaker with this movie you need to get your priorities straight.
Overall, Beauty and the Beast was a very enjoyable experience. The music was beautiful and the cast was all in. They sprinkled some extra scenes that I felt worked and helped balance the movie out pretty well. There were pacing issues and CGI issues with the Beast, but it didn’t kill the movie for me. I think Disney has a good idea of what it takes to successfully adapt these movies to live action and I can’t wait for the others. Jungle Book to me was the superior movie, but that’s not to take away from how much I enjoyed this film.
Beauty and the Beast gets a 82/100