There’s a certain sense of trepidation a movie-goer has when entering a theater to watch the re-telling of a classic story that hasn’t been visited in over two decades. With “Beauty & the Beast,” the stakes, as well as the hopes of fans everywhere, were high. There was so much room for failure...so many places to fall short.
However, Bill Condon’s live action re-make of Disney’s 1991 animated film, “Beauty & the Beast,” combines nostalgia and new flavors to create a faithful adaptation of a beloved classic.
The film was off to a good start with it’s star-studded cast alone: Emma Watson as Belle, Dan Stevens as the Beast, Luke Evans as Gaston, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, to name a few.
Performance-wise, all delivered and then some. All songs cleverly played to the strengths of each singer’s abilities (or lack thereof), nicely complementing what they were capable of while not ridiculously utilizing auto-tune in post-production.
The other area of concern for fans was the amount of CGI used.
A key facet to the story of “Beauty & the Beast” is the cursed castle with its beastly master and talking inanimate, household objects. That automatically makes a majority of the live action remake subject to CGI and other forms of animation to realistically create these characters.
There’s a certain point when CGI becomes ‘too much’ (please refer to “The Great Gatsby” and all three prequel “Star Wars” films).
While at times the flashy computer generated characters and castle scenes seemed a bit much and over-the-top (specifically during the classic “Be Our Guest” number), somehow it seemed easily ignorable in the name of focusing on the overall magical scope of the film.
One of the intended gimmicks of the film was the general over-the-top nature and tone: the costumes, the make-up, the layout of the castle and Audra McDonald’s character as a whole. It all contributed to a theme of exaggeration that reflected the French culture of the time.
The final key aspect of the film was the story itself. The last time Disney touched the “Beauty & the Beast” story was in 1991. It seemed to have success then, so much of the original animated film was recycled for the live action re-make. Many will recognize lines, scenes and features of the plot from the story of the original animated movie.
There were a few add-ons to the story, such as delving more into the story of Belle’s mother and the Beast’s own backstory.
Additionally, there seems to be more feminist motives in the characterization of Belle. No doubt an acting choice made by Watson herself, a self-proclaimed feminist, this deeper depiction fleshed at Belle both as a princess and a character.
One beloved detail of Belle is that she shamelessly deviates from what is generally expected and accepted. She’s a well-read and well-educated woman who won’t settle for marrying a grossly misogynistic man that clearly doesn’t love her for anything more than what is skin-deep. We only saw a glimpse of this in the animated film. In the live action film, we see Belle actually meet contention with the villagers for her educated upbringing.
Nevertheless, it’s proved to Belle (and little girls everywhere) that her bookish and innately curious personality is what makes someone worthy of her affections fall in love with her, which is ultimately the triumph of the film.
In general, the “Beauty & the Beast” live-action film was an entertaining and faithful adaptation of the original. While there were certain facets that should have been explored more and others that shouldn’t have been included at all, the film still satisfied fans old and new with a tale as old as time.