Beauty and the Beast Review

“Beauty and the Beast” is the newest live action version of the classic Academy Award winning film brought to life for this new era of Disney.  “Beauty and the Beast” is directed by Bill Condon starring an enormous cast that includes:  Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Ian Mckellan, Stanley Tucci and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.  “Beauty and the Beast” tells the classic fairytale story of a young girl named Belle who stumbles upon an enchanted castle wherein lies a hideous Beast who is under a curse from an enchantress.  Belle begins to fall in love as the Beast is deeply hoping that true love will break the curse placed upon him, his servants and the castle before the last rose petal falls.

“Beauty and the Beast” had a lot to live up to since the 1991 Academy Award nominated cartoon holds the record of the only animated film to ever be nominated for best picture and for good reason.  The original is a staple for Disney and one of their most beloved.  And with the amazing “Cinderella,” and last years “Jungle Book,” “Beauty and the Beast” had an enormous challenge and that was to be as good if not better than the last two animated films that came to live action format.  And does “Beauty and the Beast” reach that bar?  I would say yes, it definitely does but it isn’t quite as good as “Cinderella” or “Jungle Book.”  Even so, this new incarnation of “Beauty and the Beast” is an extremely solid film with some great performances, set pieces and an amazing new score from Alan Menken that will please any hardcore Disney lover.

“Beauty and the Beast” has a lot to offer in regards to the story.  In this version, we get a lot more backstory of Belle and the Beast which added a lot of new flavor.  Also a lot of the new music composed by Alan Menken was phenomenal and standout new hits include the tracks: “Days in the Sun,” “Evermore,” and “How does a Moment Last Forever.”  I couldn’t think of any one better suited to write the new music than the man who wrote all the original songs.  Going hand in hand with the music, the actors did a spectacular job in their respectable roles.  Emma Watson was perfect here playing Belle, and Dan Stevens was great as the Beast.  Both of them had great chemistry and their voices were spot on.  Emma Thompson who played Mrs. Potts sounds so much like Angela Landsbury it’s almost indistinguishable.  But the two big standouts here are Lafou and Gaston played by Josh Gad and Luke Evans.  These two actors brought so much fun and levity to their characters and their rendition of “Gaston” was a pure joy to see.  I also have to give a shout out to Ewan McGregor who played Lumier.  McGregor was great singing in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge and did a fantastic job singing “Be Our Guest.”  The acting, the music and the fine directing job by Bill Condon makes this new adaptation faithful to its source material but it also offers a little bit more.

Now no movie is perfect and there are a few issues that I had with this film.  The biggest one is the editing.  In most films, especially musical films, when a musical number ends, it marks the end of a scene, kind of like a play.  Then there’s a slow transitional plot point that leads us to the next musical number.  This movie didn’t have a lot of those transitional cues.  Scenes and songs just kind of ended and then went into the next one.  This might be a little too technical to explain but I think the main takeaway here is that the flow of the songs felt a little too forced and sometimes out of place.  I think this issue is more of an editing error, which disturbed the entire flow of the movie.  The other issue that I had was the beginning of the film when Belle is singing in her small remote village.  The village looked exceptionally fake.  It didn’t look real at all.  It looked like a set and it didn’t contrast well against all of the other elements of the film.  Those two issues aside, I really did quite enjoy this movie a lot and cannot wait to see it again.

This new live action “Beauty and the Beast” proves that Disney is crushing it with their classic remakes and will make gobs of money at the box-office this weekend.  People will argue that we don’t need these live action remakes but I disagree.  These stories need to be retold for a new generation of kids and moviegoers and these remakes, will only lead families to go back and relive the older classics that we remember when we were kids.  “Beauty and the Beast” is a fantastic rendition and magical remake which truly is a tale as old as time.

Grade:  A- 

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