Editor’s Note: Beauty and the Beast is currently playing in wide theatrical release.
Through the support of director Bill Condon and a magnificent cast, the live action remake of the 1991 Disney classic Beauty and the Beast is deserving of recognition, though it doesn’t particularly add anything new to the film. Filled with great performances, and a story everyone knows and loves, Condon plays it safe, deviating little from the original animated film. Ultimately, it’s the charm of the characters and the actors that holds the film together.
Beauty and the Beast may not be remembered for years to come because of its familiarity, but it serves its purpose as a fairly entertaining live action remake.
Emma Watson, who was perfectly cast in the role of Belle, is the best actress you could possibly imagine to play this character. Her singing voice is unbelievable, and the way she plays off of all the actors around her is admirable. She embodies the character perfectly, which is likely the strongest aspect of Beauty and the Beast. Dan Stevens, too, gives a good performance as The Beast, though the character itself somewhat falls flat. There’s no additional content by means of developing his character more, which is a shame. There was definitely potential in The Beast’s character – something Condon could’ve developed to differentiate this from the 1991 film. Nonetheless, The Beast’s lack of uniqueness is made up for by the supporting cast, including Ewan McGregor, who steals the show as Lumiere. Another thing that could’ve been developed better is the conflict between Gaston, Belle and the Beast, which stays exactly the same as it was presented in the ’91 film. I can’t help but feel disappointed that they didn’t somehow add something to the conflict.
Besides the performances, everything about Beauty and the Beast looks very good. The production design, along with the cinematography, look absolutely great. That’s been a strong suit for Disney’s live action remakes – they’re able to really build a world due to their high budgets. And through that, even when the film itself is lackluster (i.e. Maleficent), it’s undeniable that the world created by the director is one-of-a-kind. Other than the performances and the story, though, individuals are flocking to theatres for the soundtrack. And the soundtrack is fine. There are no surprises (which isn’t unexpected), but for this, it’s a good thing. The songs in the animated film were already mesmerizing, so it makes sense to stick with the original songs.
Ultimately, it’s the charm of the characters and the actors that holds the film together.
Overall, Beauty and the Beast manages to put itself together just enough to be considered a good film. All the elements work well together, and there are no big complaints regarding the way Bill Condon paid homage to the animated original. But, the fact that Condon played it so safe in all regards is disappointing. Beauty and the Beast may not be remembered for years to come because of its familiarity, but it serves its purpose as a fairly entertaining live action remake.
Beauty and the Beast looks great, smartly utilizes the original songs from the animated version of the film, and manages to pull itself together just enough to be considered a good film.