A truly unpleasant drama with two-dimensional characters and very little depth. Is it worth $10?...
Colorful Disney remake looks great, but is certainly not an improvement over the original.
Is it worth $10? Yes
The cartoon is better.
That’s what you’re wondering, right? The new “Beauty and the Beast” is a live action remake of Disney’s (arguably) greatest musical, so the comparisons are certainly fair. The 1991 “Beast” is, with due respect to “The Little Mermaid” (1989), the film that reignited the brilliance of Disney animation, and it was the first animated film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. So to remake it, as “Dreamgirls” director Bill Condon has done, is to travel in sacred territory. And you know what? The cartoon is better.
To be sure, it’s not for lack of trying. The production design, costumes and visual effects are stunning, so no expense was spared in getting this $160 million production to the big screen. If anything, it feels like too much: The songs (and song lyrics) that are added, Belle’s backstory, a new character and other embellishments all feel like excess. The original is so embedded in our minds that to mess with perfection seems, well, beastly.
Every song, except one, is better in the animated version. That’s not to say they’re done poorly, it’s just that you’ll notice the small differences, such as the added verse in “Be Our Guest,” and wonder why they added it. That said, the performances and voice work are strong, particularly Gad as Le Fou, who gives us a better version of “Gaston” than the animated film provides. Watson sings sweetly, endearing us from the start with “Belle” and easily getting us to like our heroine. Thompson’s rendition of the title song is nice but not memorable.
“Beauty and the Beast” is good enough to satisfy our natural curiosity in wanting to see it, but it’s clearly inferior to its predecessor. Ironically, it does itself a disservice by trying too hard and adding too much. Sometimes leaving well enough alone really is the best way to go.
Did you know?
The ballroom features 12,000 square feet of faux marble and 10 glass chandeliers.