With this next Disney live-action re-imagining, Disney had a lot to live up to considering how the original animated film was a Best Picture nominee in 1992. For myself, the film had to improve upon the original but not lose the spirit of what made it so great, without bogging it with CGI. This film definitely accomplishes that goal, but there are some small issues. 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland” was made as a spiritual sequel, while 2014’s “Maleficent” was a reconstruction of the “Sleeping Beauty” storyline. While 2015’s “Cinderella” is more in line on the balance this film has with making something new without abandoning what was established, previously. 2016’s Jungle Book was a complete improvement upon the animated classic so that film had more to work with for both CGI technical achievements and storytelling. This “Beauty and the Beast” gives us more depth and solves some lingering plot holes the animated film had us asking.
The only pitfalls that this rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” falls short on are that some of the songs and parts in the beginning feel a little rushed, and almost feel like a checklist. I wish the film breathed a little more with some dialogue so it wasn’t song after song. I enjoyed the songs that were added as well. They gave the film more freshness than just being a shot-for-shot remake. “Evermore” is the one song that stuck out to me as being well done and memorable. The renditions of the classics “Beauty and the Beast”, “Gaston”, “Belle”, and “Be Our Guest” are solid, some of them felt a little rushed but “Gaston” had the best pacing.
I want adventure in the great-wide somewhere, I wanted more than I can tell… For once in might be grand to have someone understand, I want so much more than they’ve got planned!
The big controversy around the film is LeFou being an LGBT character which I thought was progressive and understandable given the context of the story. At times it felt a little creepy in his performance and over the top but I don’t blame Josh Gad on the decisions that were made. He did bring a lot of comedy in the film. Not only did LeFou have some good comedy but Dan Stevens did as well being the Beast. Other characters get some great comedy beats to add some nice levity. I did like the changes in the prologue a lot more here than what was in the animated film. I thought it was pretty strong for the opening. His backstory as well as Belle’s were explained more and filled in the gaps.
My favorite performances were Luke Evans, Emma Watson, Dan Stevens and Kevin Kline. They changed up Belle’s father Maurice into being more proactive and less naive than he is in the animated film. Kline brought some great quirks to the character. Overall this adaptation had to prove that it wasn’t just a cash grab and something could benefit for being done in the first place and I feel that was achieved for the most part. I’m sure this is going to last as a memorable film looking back in the future.