For the second week in a row, it has been my job to review a remake/reboot of a movie that I have loved for decades. This time it’s one of the greatest animated features of all time, Beauty and the Beast.
For those of you who don’t know, Beauty and the Beast is a tale as old as time classic story about a girl, who doesn’t fit in, falling in love with a man that was turned into a monster, essentially for being a jerk. I’m as jaded and cynical as they come, but while it has become trendy to pick things apart and say that Belle has Stockholm Syndrome, I couldn’t care less about any of that. If that’s your gimmick, I’m looking at you Daniel O’Brian of Cracked (don’t take that the wrong way, I’m a huge fan of OPCD and After Hours), or you’re trying to show people a new and completely different way to see something, that’s one thing, but the rest of you just need to stop. Shit, where was I? That’s right, this is the latest film that Disney is adapting from animated classic to live-action blockbuster. These are the kinds of movies that both excite and terrify me because I want to enjoy them but am afraid they’ll ruin something I love, and after my disappointment in The Jungle Book remake, I was terrified for Beauty and the Beast more so than I was excited. So how does it stack up?
The Good News:
I wasn’t completely let down. I know that doesn’t sound very positive but I was expecting to leave the theater pissed off about another film I love being ruined by an unnecessary remake. Most of the cast did a stellar job. Emma Watson (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) is wonderful, Kevin Klein (A Fish Called Wanda) provides depth to a character that previously had none, and while I’d have preferred someone the size of Dwayne Johnson to play Gaston, Luke Evans (Dracula Untold) pulls off the unparalleled narcissism flawlessly. Adding almost an hour of runtime, the new material, unneeded as I felt it was, fit well into the overall story. And, while I’m still waiting for the day that CGI and real people/animals/objects are indistinguishable, this is pretty damn close.
The Bad News:
It’s not the original. I realize that’s obvious but it was pretty much my only problem with the film. As wonderful and talented as they are, Emma Thompson is no Angela Lansbury, and Ewan McGregor can’t hold a candle to Jerry Orbach’s Lumiere (yes, I really made that pun). The slight changes made to the music only bothered me because I know the originals by heart and it ruined my attempt to mouth along with them in the theater. Other than that, I was hoping for more out of Josh Gad (Frozen), we didn’t need the enchantress’s return, and besides for why the villagers have no idea there’s a castle with a monster in it half a day’s ride away, none of the time frame issues are resolved (but at least the enchantress doesn’t curse a 10-year-old, although the fate of the people turned into objects seems much crueler).