Director Bill Condon was handed the reigns of the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast which stars Emma Watson as Belle, Dan Stevens as The Beast, and Luke Evans as the villain Gaston. It tells the classic story of a beautiful girl from a small village in France saving her father from a prince who was cursed to look like a Beast until he finds love. Nothing seems to have changed from the original story in any major way. As a disclaimer, I have never seen the original animated classic in its entirety. I have seen all the important scenes and I saw a stage performance of the play so I am familiar with the tale.
The live action does work surprisingly well with the retelling of the story and it is helped along by the solid direction from Condon who adds some flash to the classic look of the film. The costume and set design for the film were also great and don’t be surprised if you see it get nominated for an academy award next year in that section. The setting is used perfectly in all of the musical numbers and mixed with the great choreography makes for some very entertaining sequences. Emma Watson and Luke Evans do very good jobs embodying their characters and handled the singing that is required with ease. However, it is the enchanted items that make the film, being voiced by Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson. They all do phenomenally and are easily the most enjoyable part of the film.
The movie doesn’t have many issues but the few that it does have are rather detrimental. The smaller issue is that the CGI in the film is lackluster and in the case of the Beast very distracting since the filmmakers decided to not have any practical aspects of his appearance. The main grievance I have with the remake though is the lack of change or updates. The recent Cinderella took the chance to add in some darker moments from the original tale in a funny way even if it didn’t drastically change the story. Beauty and the Beast played it very safe basically telling the same story again with few changes. Granted, I am no expert on the original so I’m sure there are changes but none were very noticeable.
The film left me feeling very meh. It was not bad by any means but I was also far from wowed by what I witnessed. If you enjoy the original I’m sure you will enjoy this remake. It was just a very average movie that had some good and some bad elements. If you are a Disney fan though you will have a great time, and it does look great on the big screen.