Beauty and the Beast is a live action retelling of Disney’s animated film by the same name, with some additions from the Broadway musical (which I have not seen). I loved the live action Cinderella, so I was really looking forward to this adaptation.
I thought Emma Watson did a good job as Belle. She was spunky—just like the animated Belle—and she had a presence, which made her a good main character. She worked well with Kevin Kline (Belle’s father), demonstrating a sweet, familial love and showcasing a wonderful father-daughter relationship. I especially liked the explanation regarding Belle’s mother, which was never addressed in the animated film.
Luke Evans (known to many as Bard from the Hobbit films) did a passable job as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. I thought he lacked the over-the-top bravado of the animated character, though he was perhaps more believable this way. I almost felt sorry for him when he died (not really a spoiler since the animated film as been out for about 26 years).
All the controversy around LeFou (Josh Gad) was way overblown. Yes, there are pretty obvious hints there (some of them rather blatantly so), but they pass quickly enough to miss if you aren’t paying attention. As with Gaston, I thought his character was much more believable than the extremely cartoonish and one-dimensional animated character.
I enjoyed the Beauty and the Beast musical numbers, especially those not in the animated film. Some of them stretched a little too long, but they were generally very well done. The music was one of my favorite parts of the original film, and the same applies here. Watson has a nice voice, though perhaps not quite as wonderful as Paige O’Hara‘s. Still, she brought an earnestness and down-to-earth feeling to the songs.
Emma Thompson was fun as Mrs. Potts, though I thought she was channeling Angela Lansbury too much, down to trying to sing like her. Thompson has a very good voice for singing, so she should have made the role her own instead. Dan Stevens, in addition to being a good actor, also sings very well. He gave a solid performance all around.
Some of the pacing was rushed in Beauty and the Beast, even with having over 30 minutes of additional time over the animated film. The editing was off in a couple of the crowd musical scenes, too. The singing in those scenes didn’t line up with the visuals, and it was obvious it wasn’t a projection issue.
I enjoyed this film, despite the various minor flaws. I think the director and writers missed an opportunity—unlike in Cinderella—to create something that wasn’t there before instead of trying to follow the animated film so closely. It is still a fun film, and fans of the animated film should enjoy it. I plan to buy Beauty and the Beast on Bluray when it is released.
Release Date: March 17, 2017 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Language: English, with a smattering of French
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (brief, social)
Violence: 2 (some melee fighting, death, nothing graphic)