If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Also, please don’t try to make it again. It’s almost never as good. The 1991 Beauty and the Beast was revolutionary in terms of blending hand drawn animation with computer effects, as well as in its music and story telling. It was nominated for numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. That’s why I’ve been against Disney’s endeavor to remake every one of their animated classics, because they could be making new classics, but they’re so afraid that nobody will see something original that they just stay with what they know will be successful.
That’s not to say the 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast is bad, though. I enjoyed it overall, but although there were some fantastic sequences, much of the film was weaker, and far inferior to the 1991 classic. Let’s start with what I enjoyed, though. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as Belle and the Beast are, hands down, the best parts of the film. The essence of who Belle is was captured beautifully in Watson’s performance, and her singing, aside from some overuse of autotune at times, blew me away.
Dan Stevens’s Beast is very different from the animated version. He never seems as monstrous and intimidating as the 1991 Beast did, but he also seemed more human because of the mix of a live performance and motion capture to bring him to life. Everything about the Beast, from his look and the emotion the character is able to convey, to the song he sings before the film’s finale, is top notch. The core of this story, which is the love between Belle and the Beast, is portrayed amazingly well. It feels authentic and, once again, human. To make a Beast seem like a real, feeling person is commendable. They did it in 1991, and they did it again here.
Some of the other characters are actually fleshed out a bit more here than they were in the original, which I really liked seeing. Luke Evans and Josh Gad were the perfect choices to play Gaston and LeFou (although, despite what Disney is telling everybody, LeFou isn’t an “openly gay character”). Their side of the story was given a bit more time in the film, as Belle’s father tries to lead them to the castle to find her and the Beast. The “Gaston” musical number is also pretty enjoyable, and is one of the better musical numbers in the film.
I did enjoy the “Be Our Guest” sequence and the “Beauty and the Beast” dance, but most of the music featured in the film is underwhelming, to say the least. Disney musicals should spark a feeling inside their viewers and give them chills during the fun or the powerful numbers. The original Beauty and the Beast did that, and so have several of their other films, including the live action Jungle Book from last year, but I only felt that magic once or twice in this film. The grandiose set pieces and performances that defined the animated classic just aren’t the same in the remake, and I never felt like the music lived up to the original.
I enjoyed Beauty and the Beast as an unnecessary remake. Much of the last half was very entertaining, especially when it comes to the climax (aside from some cartoonish fighting that only works in animation) and the pretty satisfying finale. The film’s biggest issue, though, is that it hardly brings anything new to the table. This movie’s idea of changing it up is adding a handful of new, unmemorable songs. This is nearly a scene for scene remake of what many people consider an animated masterpiece, and still it was never able to have the same impact on me. Some scenes truly were incredible, and that’s why I don’t dislike the film, but some classics are much better off untouched.
— Camden McDonald