When Disney announced a remake of the 1991 animated movie, Beauty and the Beast, I scoffed. Remaking something that was just over 25 years old seemed ridiculous. Previous Disney remakes (The Jungle Book, Pete’s Dragon) made more sense because the original versions of those films came out over 40 years ago. In addition, those original films had flaws that the remakes improved upon. But in the case of Beauty, the 1991 animated version was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. So my question going in was how would they change the story and possibly improve something that was near-perfect. Well here’s the answer.
The best aspect of the movie is the set design and visual effects. The budget of this was $160 million and it shows. Every set piece is simply gorgeous and full of detail. The cinematography is great. Although this is live-action, there are a lot of animated characters and they all fit seamlessly into the picture. The songs were also fantastic. Most were from the original film, but those and the few new songs were all done well.
As far as the plot, here’s a summary taken from Google. “An arrogant young prince and his castle’s servants fall under the spell of a wicked enchantress, who turns him into the hideous Beast until he learns to love and be loved in return. The spirited, headstrong village girl Belle enters the Beast’s castle after he imprisons her father Maurice. With the help of his enchanted servants, including the matronly Mrs. Potts, Belle begins to draw the cold-hearted Beast out of his isolation.” Having seen the 1991 film, the story of the new one is almost identical to the original. The only difference being that there are a few new scenes added. Then again, the original story was near-perfect, so not changing it is just fine.
As far as acting goes, all the performers do a fine job, especially Luke Evens as Gaston. The only one who didn’t do well was the lead actress, Emma Watson. She does an ok job in the role as Belle, but she seemed to lack energy and her vocal performance was only so-so. On a side note, the soundtrack by Alan Menken is amazingly good. This isn’t a surprise, as he also scored the original film.
Overall, I would give Beauty and the Beast (2017) a 70%. While it’s nowhere near as good as the original, it’s nonetheless a beautiful film. The story’s predictable (it’s nearly identical to the original) and Emma Watson’s performance could’ve been better. On the other hand, every shot is full of beauty and the songs are memorable.
There are parts that’ll have you tear up and others that will make you joyful. I would recommend seeing this, regardless if you’ve seen the original or not. The movie is still out in theaters, but you can also wait for the home release on June 6th.