Weekly Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

When Belle travels to a mysterious castle to save her father, she comes face to face with its owner, a beast. After trading places with her father to save him, Belle discovers that there is more to the beast than meets the eye.

Beauty and the Beast is the latest live action film from Disney, following in the footsteps of The Jungle Book and Cinderella, as well as several others. Based off of the 1991 Beauty and the Beast, this 2017 adaptation stars Emma Watson, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, and Dan Stevens. The film also features the voice talents of Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

If you are familiar with the 1991 animated film, then you will pretty much know exactly what you’re getting with this adaptation. Many of the scenes look like near exact, if not completely exact, replicas of the scenes in the animated film. With the exception of some additions to further flesh out some of the characters, this film is a near identical adaptation.

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By saying this, I mean there really aren’t any surprises. You go into the film expecting a familiar story, and you get exactly that. If you’re looking for nostalgia, you will definitely find it with Beauty and the Beast.

Now I consider myself a pretty big fan of the original animated film. I watched it a lot as a child. It was one of my favorites. Therefore, I definitely had the nostalgia factor throughout the film. I needed to see it more than once in order to properly write this review without the nostalgic glasses.

After a second watch, I think I can honestly say that the live action Beauty and the Beast is an above average film. The nostalgia factor is still always there if you’ve seen the animated original. There really is no way to completely separate the two. They are very much intertwined.

With that being said, I really enjoyed some of the things that were added and/or changed in this adaptation. This film gives a bit more backstory to Belle and her family, and it also gives the Beast more characterization. While the animated original shows a love story between Belle and the Beast, this version actually shows a bit of chemistry between the two. I did enjoy the added jokes and such that the Beast was given here.

Luke Evans is a fabulous Gaston. The fact that he could sing as well as he does really blew me away, and I absolutely loved to hate him. Josh Gad brought a nice change to LeFou as well, making him much more of a likable character than in the original. The two of them have an interesting relationship, and I really liked the changes to the song “Gaston” that the two perform.

This adaptation brings in new songs that aren’t part of the animated film. These songs include “Evermore,” “Days in the Sun,” and “How Does a Moment Last Forever.” Each of these songs was written for this live action film. I’ve seen some people wish that songs from the Beauty and the Beast Broadway musical had been used instead, but seeing as how I’ve never seen the Broadway version, I wasn’t bothered by any of this.

The singing voices of all involved were pretty great. I enjoyed them. I mentioned earlier that Luke Evans really blew me away with his vocals. The majority of the cast did a stellar job as well. When it comes to Emma Watson’s singing ability, she wasn’t terrible, but they definitely could have gotten someone better. I was particularly let down by her rendition of “Belle (Reprise).” She played a good Belle, but singing is not her strong suit.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is an enjoyable film to watch. It adds just enough to justify its existence, possibly bringing the story to a brand new generation. At the same time, it’s not new enough for it to be something utterly jaw dropping. I would go as far as to say that it’s one of the better Disney live action remakes that have been released as of late, but it’s still just a live action remake. Take that as you will.

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