I am not usually the person to tell anyone to give remakes a look, but 2017’s remake of Beauty and the Beast proves to be different in some ways. It has a ton of things going for it that I tend to criticize when speaking of movies that fit this mold, but for reasons explained in this review, they don’t matter all that much in this particular instance. Some of it is because of the perspective that I’m looking at it from, the amount of time in between the two films, and from thinking about how and the various ways others may still be able to connect with it.
Like the original, this version of Beauty and the Beast puts Belle (Emma Watson) at the center of everything. She’s the typical Disney princess who’s headstrong, adventurous, independent, etc. While her will and intuition pushes her away from the likes of Gaston (Luke Evans), it puts her in a situation where she becomes a prisoner to what looks to be a feral beast (Dan Stevens). In spite of the abrasive introduction between the two, Belle begins to see the compassionate and human side of the Beast. This places them in a position to build an actual bond that could change the seemingly unfortunate fates of others that surround them.
In reality, this is basically the same movie as the original that was released nearly three decades ago. The only obvious difference is that this one is live action. Because of this being almost exactly the same as the 1991 animated classic, I was able to remember most of what happened as it was all taking place again on-screen. This would normally be seen as a negative in my view, but I’m kind of okay with it since I have only watched the original one time in my life. So instead of it feeling like I was being offered yet another retread (even though it is), it felt like I was just seeing the original for a second time.
Aside from the live action, the only other difference is that there are a couple of gay characters included as well. While some could have an issue with this for a multitude of reasons, it’s something that you would have probably missed completely if it wasn’t mentioned by the media and the director beforehand. While sitting through it, you probably won’t even being paying attention to it because it’s so small and ultimately irrelevant to anything that’s going on. I guess mentioning it could be a selling point for the more liberal segments of the audience, but in the film itself, it’s more insinuated than acknowledged while also never being made out to be a big enough deal to turn it into anything significant.
I guess when looking at the way they handled that and the movie as whole, one could say that a very cautious approach was taken. They don’t take too many chances with this project and I would imagine that they want people who are interested in spending their time and money on it to be satisfied with the finished product. If you have no interest in it due to it not being anything new then you may find more fault in it than someone in my position. That’s completely understandable and I would usually agree with you. However, this is a film that I can see children (and maybe adults as well) loving if they don’t know much about it.
In the end, I can honestly (and surprisingly) say that I was digging this live action version of Beauty and the Beast. While I doubt too many will consider this to be a superior product when compared to the animated one, you can probably see it as being as engaging as the original depending on if you remember it or have even seen it before. The effort they put into getting things right and the quality work from the entire cast that includes standout performances from actors like Luke Evans as Gaston really assist in making this something that should amuse those who are thinking about giving it a chance.
Director: Bill Condon
Film Length: 126 minutes
Release Date: March 17, 2017
- Score - 7/107/10