Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s latest live-action adaptation of one of their animated classics,
has broken box office records, but the movie falls flat due to a failure to live up to the original, adding uninteresting new material, and a lack of emotional or visual appeal.
Disney is busy milking their latest cash cow, live-action remakes of beloved animated films. Hits like Alice in Wonderland and The Jungle Book have raked in billions of dollars for the studio, and Beauty and the Beast will surely be no different. In its opening weekend from March 17-19, the film grossed over $174 million, making it the largest March opening of all time and the seventh biggest domestic opening overall.
The film follows the same basic plot of the 1991 animated version. Belle (Emma Watson) lives with her father, Maurice (Kevin Kline) in a small French village. She is ostracized for her love of reading and inventing, but she also wards off the advances of the local manly man, Gaston (Luke Evans).
Nearby lies an enchanted castle, in which the prince (Dan Stevens) and his servants were cursed by an enchantress due to the prince’s hateful heart and inability to see true beauty. The prince is now a hideous beast and his servants are walking, talking, inanimate objects.
When Maurice inadvertently stumbles upon the castle, he is held prisoner by the Beast. Belle volunteers to take her father’s place as prisoner, which prompts some of the servants, including Lumiere (Ewan McGregor) the candelabra, Cogsworth (Ian McKellan) the clock, and Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) the teapot, to play matchmaker to Belle and the Beast. If Belle can fall in love with the Beast, the castle’s curse will be undone, but time is running out before the curse becomes permanent.
Many scenes play out as replicas of the original Beauty and the Beast, and all of the great songs are included in the new film. However, the novelty of seeing famous people reenact such classic moments wears off as the director and cast can never match, let alone exceed, the quality of the original.
New songs have been added along with various backstories to beloved characters, but the new music is bland while the new plot threads are merely padding which add little but extra running time to the movie.
With nothing interesting to offer or say, this new Beauty and the Beast lacks the emotional heft of the original. It’s merely a mediocre tribute to an old classic. The film could have slightly improved had it offered a more appealing visual palette, but the new CGI character designs for the Beast and more especially the castle servants are unattractive and distracting. Plus, the “realistic” color grading dulls the colors and darkens the lighting.
All in all, this Beauty and the Beast is a disappointment. As far as live action Disney remakes go, it may not be as inane as Alice in Wonderland or Maleficent, but it sure isn’t as good as Cinderella or The Jungle Book. It would be a far more enjoyable experience just to watch the original animated version.