Beauty and the Beast (1991), the first Academy Award nominated animated movie for best picture, was “gifted” with the “honor” of being remade into a live action film. Did this remake live up to the beloved Disney Film of our childhood? Well… Not really.
To be fair, I went in with extremely low expectations due to my excessive love for the original film and Broadway show. However, I came out of the theatre thinking it was a decent flick which Disney made solely for the purpose of profit.
The massive amount of hype for this movie was insane and unfortunately many who were so excited, left unsatisfied. It was not the movie they expected in the least bit.
Disney depends on the audience’s nostalgia and love for the original film to try to make this one work. There’s often shot by shot scenes or reused lines used that mimicked the 1991 incarnation. The images and ambience of the movie are absolutely gorgeous and really captures the wonder that one has when seeing the original film. The supporting cast is extremely loveable, featuring Ian McKellen as everyone’s favorite clock butler, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts. All of the servants in the castle were perfectly cast and brought a lot of humanity to otherwise inanimate objects. Gaston, played by Luke Evans, and Lefou played by Josh Gad, also were extremely hilarious and had great chemistry together. Unfortunately, both Beast (played by Dan Stevens) and Belle (played by Emma Watson) had no chemistry whatsoever, due to writing. There was more time spent on the side-characters and backstory than the leads which makes it hard for the leads not to be flat.
There were a few cringeworthy moments due to character inaccuracies and things that worked in the original not working in the 2017 version. For example, whenever Maurice or Belle would talk to their horse Philip. It just doesn’t work because the horse can’t silently respond to them with any sort of emotion that the animated Philip could. Not to say it’s weird to talk to horses or animals, but the excessive talking to the horse was awkward. Actually, the more awkward thing was some of the original songs added to the film. There was a song before the narration of the prince getting turned into everyone’s favorite depressed lion-wolf-man, which just upright sounded silly and was really not necessary. Most of the new added songs were very underwhelming at the very least. (So sorry Alan Menken. I love you.) Maybe it was the performance that really didn’t give the songs enough credit?
I had heard Evermore and was extremely upset due to its unimpressive note reaches, and just how dead it sounded as compared to Beast’s big solo song in the stage version, If I Can’t Love Her. While Evermore tends to be stagnant musically and not really reflect any turmoil that Beast has within himself after letting the love of his life go, I still found it more enjoyable during the movie as Stevens really brought out the emotion of the song. If I Can’t Love Her still could have been used and would have made Beast that much more endearing, as the audience would have been able to see the inner conflict he has. Speaking of singing performances, I’m not going to even address the fact that Emma Watson’s speak singing and severely autotuned voice was extremely out of place in a cast of good singers. Instead I’d rather discuss that the role of Belle is supposed to be cast as a lyric soprano. There are different colorations of the soprano voice type. Germanic, Lyric, Soubrette, Spinto, and so on and and so forth. Mind you this is generally in Opera, but can still apply to musical theatre. Lyrics generally have a high range and have a warm quality to their voice. Belle having a warm quality to her voice is such a large part of the music.
Story: Everyone knows the story of Beauty and the Beast. Tale as old as time, of course! Besides the initial concept Disney changed so much to make the characters “modern” or “well-rounded”. These attempts to explain both Belle and Beast’s parental situation, as well as flesh out some of the side characters and make Belle more “modern”, proved to be disastrous. First of all, there need to be flat characters in order to make the main characters rounded. However, when you attempt to round the supporting characters it makes the main characters flat, and that indeed happened with Beauty and the Beast (2017). Beast was able to retain some of the deepness he had in the original, but Belle was awfully mean and didn’t seem to have any emotional conflict throughout the movie. The only emotion Watson seemed to only be able to express was anger, which is not what the character is about. Belle is an extremely emotional and sweet, yet doesn’t put up with meanness. But she’s never cruel in the 1991 version or the musical. When she refuses to eat with Beast or when she tells him that he needs to “control his temper”, Belle never calls him names or attacks his character. In the (2017) remake Watson shrieks at Stevens’ Beast that he’s insane and that she would rather starve than eat with him. Not to mention that while in this version Belle is kind to children, animals, she is really malicious to anyone who doesn’t agree with her. I dare you to watch the 1991 again and see the contrast between the original Belle and Watson’s version. Then you will see the absolute differences. Watson’s performance was decent, just not accurate to the character, and not very emotion-filled.
The death scene being one of those moments where the lack of emotion shines. Yes, Watson produces physical tears, but the fast pacing of the scene mixed with her unemotional delivery made it unmoving.
- Josh Gad.
- Emma Thompson was extremely warm and maternal.
- The scene where the servants turned human again was SO BEAUTIFUL!
- Home from the stage show was written into the instrumental score.
- The visuals were absolutely jaw dropping.
- Casting decisions for the servants.
- Luke Evans.
- More backstory about the leads and their parents.
- The spell actually made people forget about the Prince and his castle.
- Some jokes were hilarious.
- Belle getting hit in the face with the gigantic snowball.
- Emma Watson is super gorgeous and looks like Belle.
- Josh Gad.
- Belle wasn’t as kind or relatable as she was in the original.
- There was too much stress on making things “realistic”.
- Less Beast for some reason.
- Bad chemistry between the leads.
- Unemotional performance from Watson.
- Essential scenes were too fast paced, and didn’t give time for actors to react.
- Beast’s emotions were hard to read as compared to the original.
Final score: 5.5/10 enchanted roses.