Before I get to the “Beauty and the Beast” review, a little background about why I love this story so much.
When I walked into my not-yet-boyfriend/now husband’s apartment in 1992, one of the first things I noticed was the brand new VHS copy of “Beauty and the Beast” sitting next to his television. He said he’d already watched it a few times and suggested we have a movie night together.
That’s how I knew this man had potential. We clearly had a future.
Flash forward 20+ years, five children, and many movie nights later: “Beauty and the Beast” is back and on the big screen.
Like many women of my generation, I wanted this film to be fantastic, but I had a few concerns about it going in.
- Would they mess up the story somehow?
- Would I see Hermione Granger instead of Belle?
- Could Emma Watson sing?
- Will the Beast be believable in live action?
- What about the talking clock, candlestick (ahem, candelabra), teapot, etc.? How would that translate?
- And, Lord help Disney, but that ballroom scene had better be ON POINT, or there will be a bunch of Generation Xers coming after them like the villagers in the “Kill the Beast” scene.
I mean, this was a watershed movie of my youth. Belle was a nerdy brunette that I connected with on a personal level, and my daughter does as well. I think many of us feel that way about our favorite Disney Princesses, amirite?
2017 Beauty and the Beast Review
The story remains intact, and in some cases, it’s word for word dialogue from the original.
“I’ve been burned by you before.”
“Fine- go ahead and STAAAARRVEEE!”
This is a win for those of us looking for the nostalgia of the first movie. There are some welcome additions to the overall story, but nothing critical was missing.
What was added? Backstory and fleshing out of the main face characters. We learned more about Belle and Maurice’s beginnings, what happened to her mother, and why the Beast was the spoiled jerk of a man in the beginning. It all works beautifully and adds an extra layer to the relationships. It takes the cartoon caricatures and humanizes them, essentially completing the mission of any animation to live-action film. It’s well done here.
My favorite interactions and backstory came in the pair of Gaston and Le Fou. Guys, these two steal the movie.
News flash: Josh Gad is a funny dude, and he plays the besotted sidekick to perfection.
Honestly, you didn’t know Le Fou had a thing for Gaston? This was the least shocking of all “twists” for me. I think the characterization is just a little more obvious in the live action movie.
“The big gay scene” is not anything to worry about if you happen to worry about those things. (Which I hope you don’t- it’s 2017 for goodness sake!).
And besides- have you seen Luke Evans? Who wouldn’t be in love with that gorgeous man? He’s all I wanted in a Gaston. I loved and hated him, just as we should. I think his performance was my favorite from the movie.
The Main Characters
Emma Watson, as a person, as an advocate, and as an actress is a personal favorite. I loved the idea of her being cast as Belle but admit I had a bias to see her as Hermione on screen. I worried I would hear “Evanesco Gaston!” in my head.
The perils of being an iconic character: it can be hard to see her as anything other than our favorite young witch.
What we get in the movie is a very Emma Watson-like performance. I didn’t see Hermione once. I saw a strong, capable, fearless, and wonderfully aware Belle. She knows she’s different and is a bit more uncomfortable in the town than her animated counterpart. It’s a subtle performance, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
And yes, she can sing just fine, thankyouverymuch. I had tears in my eyes when she belted out, “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere…” and again when she starts the song “Something There.”
Is she a Grammy winner? No, I won’t pretend. But I thought the arrangement was lovely and complimented her voice.
Dan Stevens as the Beast was another delight. His voice and inflections are spot on; scary when he’s supposed to be, tender when his heart starts to change. I think his performance was the most like the animated version.
The Supporting Cast
This was the only piece that didn’t quite work for me. I think this was a challenge because it worked so well in animation, but live action with inanimate objects is a bit trickier. And again, it might be nostalgia and bias with the previous movie. You may be able to set that aside, and I encourage you to do so!
Jerry Orbach and Angela Lansbury will always be my Lumiere and Mrs. Potts. Sorry, not sorry; I couldn’t help but miss the original “Be Our Guest” rendition. While I can’t say there is anything wrong with the new cast and their songs, I just didn’t connect as much as I did with the originals.
The Ballroom Scene
Remember this scene from the original? Remember how breathtaking and awe-inspiring and beautiful it was? How we never thought we’d see something like that on screen again?
I thought this one was even better than the original.
Bless it, Disney; I had full on waterworks happening here. And a gasp or two.
It’s a beautiful story told with the sensibility of a 2017 audience in mind. Costuming, set design, and music live up to the hype that we come to expect from Walt Disney Studios.
It’s not perfect, but it was nostalgic and lovely. The cast brings strong performances that hold the film together through some slower moments.
I don’t think many fans of the original will be disappointed overall. Will you leave thinking BEST. FILM. EVER! — Maybe not. But I expect your children will!
Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who 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. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar® winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts. Directed by Oscar® winner Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, “Beauty and the Beast” is produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman with eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the 1991 animated film, providing the score, which will include new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as several new songs written by Menken and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice. “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.
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Patty Holliday is a movie critic, writer, and podcaster living in the Washington, DC area. Her goal is to bridge the gap between casual fandom and picky critic with parent movie and television reviews.