By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, US)

 

“Look, a girl! What if she is the one?” 26 years has passed since the tale as old as time came to our theaters. Last time it was done in an animated fashion, and today in 2017 it returns in a live action fashion with fantastic musical numbers that are brought to fruition with incredible visuals. Beauty and the Beast tell the story of the beloved Belle helping her father who is trapped inside of a dark and mysterious castle where a terrifying beast dwells. After Belle takes her father’s place, we learn that there is more than meets the eye with this Beast whose curse can only be broken by the power of true love. The new and improved Beauty and the Beast is an incredible redesign of a beautiful story that combines realism with fantasy in a visually stunning film.

As a fan of the original, I went into this movie with a bit of hesitance. Unsure if it was a good idea from the studio of Disney to reboot such beloved film, but I enjoyed this attempt at a retelling of a tale as old as time. However, this movie is not perfect and not nearly as tightly written as its predecessor. I’ll get into that later, but first I want to focus on the technical aspects of this film. The direction in this movie is well done with a combination of panning zooms and well done establishing shots to encompass this fictional environment. The visual effects though are the technical quality that makes this film stand out. From the production design to the costumes and the visual design of the beast were so magnificent. Disney continues to display its incredible creationism of bringing animation to life with stunning and enthralling visuals. But, what are visual without music?

There are a few new songs in the new Beauty and the Beast with a total of maybe 6. These new songs had some characterization to some of the lesser characters that were underutilized in the original. The Beast gets his song, Maurice gets his song, and many others are given music to provide characterization. The performances are the best part of Beauty and the Beast in my opinion with Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ian McKellen, and Ewan McGregor all stealing the show. Luke Evans brings Gaston to life with this over the top and dynamic performance. He is a man I would love to see on Broadway. Luke Evans and Josh Gad show amazing chemistry as LeFou serves as the comic relief to Gaston’s strong prowess. But, Ian McKellen and Ewan McGregor share the greatest chemistry as Cogsworth and Lumiere who steal my heart for the entirety of the runtime. They are so brilliant together with so much hilarious banter that is also new dialogue to this fantastical story.

Emma Watson and Dan Stevens are great as well overall. I do enjoy Paige O’Hara and Robby Benson’s portrayal better, mostly from nostalgia and their vocal performances. Which leads me to Beauty and Beast’s flaws, starting with the illogical gaps in the narrative. Some parts of the original narrative can come off as cartoony with time differences, open plot developments, and some unrealistic additions to the story which conflict with the period. With African American characters having a place in society when during that time they were entrapped by slavery. I feel that this lack of realism is not a consequence to the narrative and welcomed. The characters are not focused, and the original story of Beauty and the Beast doesn’t concentrate on the realism of the period as most of the Disney Renaissance movies didn’t.

The problems I had with the film were more focused on how some of the additions were not needed, with the some of the songs not adding anything to the movie. Beauty and the Beast also play it safe and makes very few new additions to the screenplay. It’s understandable why you would do this, but I would have loved to witness new events that served as consequential to the narrative. Now let me reiterate that there are new subtexts and motivational reasonings added to most of the characters, but the overall entirety is almost a duplicate of its predecessor. I would have loved to see Disney take some more chances as they did with added diversity to the characters.

The new rendition of Beauty and the Beast is visually marvelous and provides some new flavors to the recipe. However, it suffers a bit from its lack of ingenuity through the film’s entirety. I enjoyed this remake of a classic story but would’ve of loved to have witnessed a new perspective on the tale as old as time.

Rating: 4/5

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