Beauty and the Beast

Director: Bill Condon

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci

Rated: PG (some action violence, peril and frightening images)

An adaptation of the Disney fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love.

 

Beauty and the Beast

By Cole Schneider

The Disney live-action remake machine has churned out another big box-office success remaking one of its most beloved animated classics, 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast,” and like most of their other recent remakes it’s an occasionally magical yet altogether bland retelling of a familiar property.

This new “Beauty and the Beast” is plenty grande and elegant, but lacks any real enchantment, any real spark. The whole undertaking—a microcosm of Disney’s larger remake efforts—is perfunctory and although magical moments exist along the ride, they’re each swallowed up by the slog of sitting through a story, in which its audience grew up seeing a better version.

There are some additions and some emphases. Some of Disney’s stage version is added and some of the style choices from Jean Cocteau’s 1946 version are lifted, but there remains a frustrating fidelity to this version’s existence. It never truly earns our interest and instead just assumes it. That’s a pretty big fundamental problem that Disney needs to examine.

All this isn’t to say some people won’t be enchanted enough to enjoy themselves. Any time a film is this steeped in nostalgia many will leave satisfied or even overjoyed. That’s great! But that joy isn’t coming from this “Beauty and the Beast,” but from its older sibling. This is merely a conduit.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

Beauty and the Beast

By Matt Greene

Disney’s latest money-printer…I mean live-action remake…has most everything we all love about the 1992 animated opus: the magical romance, the fun characters, the beautiful art direction, and possibly the greatest collection of songs in Disney’s impressive canon. And based on the first weekend box office, audiences are more than happy to be guests in this world again. The problem for me is that everything they love here, they love, or would love, in the much superior original. Instead of taking a new approach to their property (i.e. Cinderella, Jungle Book), Beauty and the Beast is essentially a moment-for-moment remake with some hit-and-miss additions.

So you already know the story: girl is imprisoned by beast, beast learns to love, girl returns love, etc. A couple of backstory facelifts and plot-hole fixes are really the only changes in this update, and they do serve their purpose. Even the romance itself is given a needed expansion, making their love slightly more genuine. However, those additions also further other pressing questions (why did she stay imprisoned for so long?).

Also, the titular characters are just plain worse. The normally competent and likable Watson is completely out of her element, opting for a quieter and frankly smugger Belle than the quirky and free-spirited one, and the beast roars uncanny valley like a furry Transformer.

On the plus side, the household objects (Lumiere, Cogsworth, etc) have a much better arc, including more than a few funny moments and a surprisingly emotional plight. The question is: are these additions enough to warrant a brand-new movie? I guess if you refuse to revisit the original then they are. Otherwise, they simply aren’t.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

 

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