Movie Review: Beauty and The Beast

Beauty and The Beast balances a faithful adaptation with CGI-assisted live action retelling, delivering a decent enough reboot that’s enjoyable for new young viewers and nostalgic fans despite its casting mistakes.

Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within.

In the continuing trend of rebooting every Disney box office hit property that hasn’t yet been subjected to the CGI treatment, Beauty and The Beast is the latest classic to get a facelift.

The latest version tweaks the source material to flesh out the romance between Beauty and The Beast, adding some new details to make a better connection between the two. The script gives each a bit of a back story and focuses on their similarities. Here, its less Stockholm Syndrome and more about two outcasts finding solace with each other. Small town weirdo Belle is impossibly odd next to the beast, who finally found someone that he can connect with over books, parental issues, and judgmental folks.

The beast, his cursed castle and servants turned furniture are well rendered and detailed. The CGI worked best for fantastical music numbers, particularly “Be Our Guest” and the iconic ballroom dance. The imagery is lavish and vivid. As for the rest of the movie, it depends if you prefer CGI assisted live-action over traditional animation. If you’re not interested in the new technology or have no problems over the sugarcoated Stockholm Syndrome, it becomes obvious that this 2017 version is just a padded reboot.

Save for the new additions, the whole movie is more or less a shot by shot replay of the original (minus the iconic yellow dress and gloves). Some of these changes also don’t fare well – the new songs aren’t memorable and the movie suffers from casting mistakes.

Emma Watson does resemble Belle, but doesn’t have the personality and vocals of the progressive Disney princess. Luke Evans menace as Gaston is heavy-handed. The gay thing with his sidekick LeFou is shoe horned (and unnoticeable if people didn’t complained about it).

Things get better once Belle reaches the castle, but it immediately becomes obvious that Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson’s accents are unconvincing. Audra McDonald’s pipes are underused. Facial motion capture fixes the dead-eyed stare from CGI beast (Dan Stevens does a good job at humanizing the beast) but of course, he’s not as hideous as the movie wants us to think.

The cast is good acting-wise, but these mistakes can be distracting or hinder certain moments from becoming as effective as it should have been.

In fairness, the 2017 version is more of a retelling than a remake, adding just enough new material while being faithful to the original. It’s risky for the writers to overhaul the story because it would provoke the ire of fans that are mostly millennials, the original doesn’t really need changing as a fairytale, and Beauty and The Beast is still well known thanks to Broadway. Snow White was turned into a franchise and that didn’t went well. We all know how studios can end up destroying beloved classics in an attempt to earn a quick buck.

This retelling is enjoyable enough for new kid viewers and nostalgic fans. If you don’t mind the live action transformation and found the romance questionable in the 1991 version, the 2017 Beauty and The Beast has something to offer. Otherwise, you’re better off re-watching the original on DVD.

My Rating: 7/10

Photo credit: Walt Disney Studios

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