The Movie Buff March: Beauty and the Beast
Colby Perron, the Movie Buff reviews the live action adaptation of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast."
March 29, 2017
Filed under The Movie Buff - Colby Perron
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Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, stockholm syndrome.
In the past seven or so years, Disney has set out on a conquest to take their most popular animated films and convert them into live action. While continuing with this quest, Disney has had some major hits (2015’s “Cinderella,” and 2016’s “The Jungle Book”) but there have also been some stinkers, namely 2010’s Alice in Wonderland,” and 2014’s “Maleficent”.
With so much riding on these live action films, it only made sense for Disney to pick from its most popular lineup, “The Disney Renaissance,” which took place from 1989-1994. The movie that they decided to go with is, in my opinion, already a perfect movie, so obviously that played into their choice. For their 2017 release, Disney decided to release a live action version of their 1991 hit, “Beauty and the Beast”.
Now, I’m pretty sure everyone has seen the animated version, so I won’t take up too much time summarizing, but for the one of you who hasn’t, here it is. A beautiful girl named Belle lives in a village, but isn’t happy with her life because there isn’t a lot of adventure and it’s basically the same thing day-in and day-out. When her father gets lost on his way to the market, Belle decides to go after him, only to find out he’s been imprisoned by a terrifying beast in a castle.
In an attempt to spare her father’s life, Belle surrenders herself to the Beast for a life of imprisonment. However, with the help of a menagerie of enchanted objects, Belle and the Beast eventually fall in love, breaking a curse and turning the Beast and all of his enchanted objects back into humans, living happily ever after, blah blah blah.
Now, was I just summarizing the animated version or the live action? The answer: both. That was my major problem with this movie: there was nothing unique about it at all. In fact, there were entire scenes that were shot for shot recreations of the animated film. What I loved about “The Jungle Book” was that it took creative liberties while also staying faithful to the animated film, creating a fun, new experience for moviegoers. However, “Beauty and the Beast” didn’t take any creative liberties in any way.
However, that being said, I adore the 1991 animated film. It is easily my 2nd favorite Disney film, so seeing it remade really did give me mixed emotions. However, that wasn’t the only thing that gave me mixed emotions as the cast was just as much of a grab bag.
While Ewan McGregor as the singing candelabra, Lumiere, and Sir Ian Mckellan as a nervous and timid clock, Cogsworth, were easily my two favorite performances, there were some other stellar castmates. Luke Evans as the arrogant braggart Gaston, Emma Thompson as everyone’s grandmother in teapot form, Mrs. Potts, and especially Josh Gad as Gaston’s best friend (and in this film, not-so secret admirer) LeFou were all stellar performances.
Where the cast falls flat for me are the leads. Emma Watson, while a talented actress, especially as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” franchise, I didn’t feel brought a lot to the table. I didn’t feel a lot of emotion from her performance and really, it just felt flat. The other lead, Dan Stevens as the Beast, was another flat performance. While in the animated film you could hear the anger and hatred in The Beast’s voice, in this, it was just bland.
In my favorite scene in the animation, when Belle refuses to join the Beast for dinner, he gets frustrated and screams in a very angry tone “Then you can stay in there and starve!” However, in this film, he instead goes into a song (one of only two changes to the entire film overall) and you don’t really feel the passion from this character.
So yeah, maybe I’m just being nitpicky since I adore the 1991 film, but I really didn’t enjoy this one as much. What I can say though, is that if you enjoy the animated version, you will not dislike this film as it is a faithful adaptation. However, if you were expecting changes to the scale of “The Jungle Book” to make a new and unique feeling movie, I have to say you will be disappointed. Definitely not a bad movie, but definitely unnecessary.