I must admit I had mixed feelings about hearing that Beauty and the Beast was getting a live action remake – considering that in the past Disney live action films have been completely lacklustre compared to their animated films – Cool Runnings and The Black Hole aside. That being said, Disney have certainly pulled their socks up in recent years and have made some pretty decent live action movies. They also seem to be going through a habit of doing live versions of their classics – all of which have been fantastic. Well, apart from Maleficent, that was a HUGE let down in my opinion.
So where does this Beauty and the Beast stand?
Quite simply… it’s shite! It's the shiteiest shite that's ever shited. Shite acting, shite effects, shite music and shite visuals add up to a proper shite fest of a movie.
That's what I WOULD say if the film was indeed, shite. But actually it's very good! Doesn't quite match up to the original but it's certainly worth a watch.
I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this you’ve either seen the original Beauty and the Beast, or at least have some knowledge of it, so that I don’t need to go too much into the plot. If you haven’t, well you might want to brush up on that film – it’s worth a watch! But as Disney like to update their live action films, how much has changed in this? Surprisingly, not a huge amount. Oh they’ve added stuff here and there, but for the most part they’ve kept close to the original story. In actual fact, some of the changes even answer one important plot hole from the original.
If you’ve seen Beauty and the Beast, you may know that the most asked questions about the film was; how old was the Prince before he became cursed. The film gave him a timeline of “before his 21st year” to find love, so does this mean that the Beast was a kid? Were they frozen in the age that they were cursed at? And why does no one in the village remember the Prince? Well thankfully they do answer some of this through a live action flashback, showing the Prince was indeed an adult when he was cursed – and the enchantress that cursed him made everyone forget (seems legit). Also they didn’t specify a time frame as to how much time passed to when he was cursed, so that worked out. Only problem I really had with the flashback was that I kinda preferred the original animated intro – that had more of a “show don’t tell” feel to it whereas this was kinda the opposite.
But, if you ever wanted to know what happened to the Enchantress after she cursed the Beast, this one also answers that question. And no, she didn’t go to join Suicide Squad in case you’re wondering.
However, the visual effects more than made up for this. Disney stayed very close to the original film’s design, only making minor changes here and there. It means that the characters have the same lifelike appearance they had in the animated film (apart from the wardrobe that just looked f***ing terrifying!), whilst at the same time keeping with the aesthetic of what they were supposed to be. It also helped that they had a stella voice cast from Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson amongst others. The Beast especially looked awesome and Dan Stevens was pitch perfect. Sometimes scary, but at heart a gentle soul, and with a really deep voice, the Beast I would say wins the prize for best costume.
Emma Watson has had some mixed reaction about her portrayal of Belle – at least from the people I’ve spoken to. But personally, I thought she was brilliant. Witty, feisty, intelligent, strong willed and highly likeable, Watson slinks into the role with no problem. Luke Evans (who in the past I’ve jokingly called a “Discount Orlando Bloom – but to his credit he is a talented actor when given the right role) was also excellent as everyone’s favourite douchebag, Gaston. Amazingly, I thought he wasn’t as conniving or idiotic as his animated counterpart, but he still is so slimy and jerky that you just love to hate him,
A couple of changes that they made to characters that I felt worked very well were Maurice and LeFou. You’ve probably heard all the kerfuffle about LeFou being a “gay” character and all that. Personally, I never saw this as a problem – heck the animated version had such a man crush on him I figured why not make him gay? Here though he’s actually a lot more likable than his animated counterpart, and sometimes even talks back to him. He’s not so much of a whipping boy here as he is he is in the animated film and has a bit more of a friendlier companionship with Gaston – though Gaston was willing to dump him when it suited him. Amazingly, LeFou gets a moment of redemption in this film, which is pretty cool. I liked this LeFou, Josh Gad played him flamboyantly, but not so over the top, just little hints here and there.
Kevin Kline plays Maurice, Belle’s father – and he also has a bit of a change. He’s a bit more sympathetic and less of a comedic character here – as they add a back-story about what happened to Belle’s mother. It’s a nice addition and is quite sad so that was good.
But the big question is, did they keep the songs? Yes they did! And they are just as incredible as they are in the animated film. They do change some of the lyrics and musical accompaniments at times, which did urk me somewhat – but at least they had Alan Menken doing them, which is awesome! They even added a couple of new ones in – including a song from Beast himself, something that was lacking in the animated film. Guess you could say that Beast gets his Let It Go moment! Actually, from what I’ve read, these new songs come from the Broadway musical – so it’s nice to include them here.
Overall, this was an adaptation that’s very faithful to the source material and the changes they make enhance the story in much the same way that Cinderella did. The cast are perfect and the visuals are just magical. The songs don’t quite have the same impact as the original animated film in my opinion, but it’s great to hear them again. I found myself singing along more than once. And although I didn’t feel that this film had the same emotional impact as the animated one, manly tears were shed by the end.
Did Beauty and the Beast need a live action remake? Probably not. Are we better now it has? Well that’s down to your own point of view. Myself, I thought this was a lovely movie that had a lot of attention put into it. Whether you’ve seen the original film or not, you’re bound to get a lot of enjoyment out of this one. It’s certainly the most beautiful film I’ve seen so far.
Beauty and the Beast gets a well deserved 4.5 out of 5.
You probably think I’m going to recommend the previous Beauty and the Beast film – but that would be too obvious (and it's a given that you should see that). Instead, I’m gonna suggest that you check out both the live actions of Cinderella and The Jungle Book, both films which take the original source material and turn it into something special and inventive.