It’s a tale as old as time and song as old as rhyme. That’s why the story of a beautiful girl giving her heart to a beast remains a classic. And it’s why this much-anticipated live-action musical adaptation will win over fans of all ages at the box office this weekend. Wellllll ... for the most part. As a stand-alone Disney production, though, this blooms like an enchanted rose. But as far as the storyline, it falls slowly just like the last petal.
Let me set the stage for you: If you’ve seen the 1991 movie, you pretty much know the story, to which Director Bill Condon has made a few alterations. The story begins showing that Beast (Dan Stevens) is an adult, not a child, who turned away the enchantress that turned him into a beast. The movie also explains that the enchantress’ spell made everyone forget that the castle existed, so that’s why the townsfolk don’t know about the giant magical castle near them. Additionally, in a callback to the original fairy tale, Maurice (Kevin Kline), is taken prisoner not for enjoying the hospitality of the castle, but for taking a rose from the garden. When his daughter Belle (Emma Watson) comes to rescue her father, she takes his place as Beast’s prisoner, and starts to humanize the Beast as they spend time together. Maurice makes his way back to the village for help, and the evil Gaston (Luke Evans) and his sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad) agree to rescue Belle, but only so that Gaston can try and marry her even though she refused his early proposal. And blah, blah, blah, I won’t bore you with the rest of the story.
My point of view: The 1991 film runs roughly around 84 minutes. The new movie is 129 minutes, and it feels it. While there are some stories where you stop and think, “Yes, I would like to spend more time with these characters and this world,” I think the director invests his energy in the wrong places. I didn’t really need to go into too deep on the father’s history, and I didn’t need to know what happened to Belle’s mother (sounds mean, but I think it wasted a lot of time). I didn’t like to get introduce to some of the news songs in which I will not remember as much as I still do the original classic songs from the 1991 version. What I needed is a love story between Belle and Beast and investment in their relationship, which their love story doesn’t really begin until about an hour into the movie and than it felt rushed and not as believable as the original Disney classic.
All in all, I did enjoy resurfacing my inner child singing along with some of the old songs that I knew by heart. The sets were visual stunning and I love the CGI on the appliances. Best example: all the dishes and flatware and napkins dancing across the screen in the show-stopping “Be Our Guest.” And of course I couldn’t keep my eyes off the iconic yellow ball gown as she walks down the staircase in it … it’s as true (and goose bump-inducing) as it can be. I adore the 1991 Beauty and the Beast, and I had high expectations for the live-action remake. That being said, this isn’t a matter of not living up to a classic original as much as there’s a lack of consideration for making sure that everything works. There’s no reason Beast’s CGI makeup to look half done. It wasn’t believable for me. There was also no reason the new songs shouldn’t be outstanding when you’ve got Alan Menken back to do the music. There’s no reason to add new things if those things don’t make the movie better overall. Condon didn’t have to stay devoted to the 1991 film, but most of alterations and changes don’t make his version feel fresh. They feel like they’re seeking for relevancy. But overall, I still think its worth the trip to the movies this weekend as a good family-friendly thing to do.
I give it 3 out of 5 stars. My heart still belongs to the original 1991 Disney classic as one of my favorite love stories told. Let me know what you guys think if you get to see it. Did it meet your expectations? -xo Mel