Beauty and the Beast represents the next milestone in Disney’s latest experiment to adapt all their famous animations as live-action spectacles. In this respect, Beauty shares many of the same strengths as its live-action predecessors, such as grand visuals and excellent musical pieces, but stands a little higher than many of the others due to its phenomenal casting. While it isn’t without fault, Beauty and the Beast is a great time at the movies and delivers about what you expect from a live-action Disney film.
The film’s greatest accomplishments are definitely the visuals. The colours just explode off the screen and every shot is filled with motion and life. From the soft browns of the village at the beginning to the magnificent golds and blues that populate the Beast’s castle, the movie truly looks brilliant. This is achieved with a clever mix of intricate costuming, expert set design, and first class special effects. While some green screen vistas do stand out, the real and computer generated blend seamlessly for the most part creating a buzzing atmosphere.
These visuals only compliment the luscious musical set pieces. Large choirs belt out the familiar classics from the 1991 original and make the sound much larger than the original versions. Alan Menkin, a Disney musical veteran who also wrote the music for the animated Beauty and the Beast, returns to score this live action adaptation and has made both new arrangements of his old work as well as new songs that will burn into your subconscious and create a new identity for this familiar story.
The acting in this film is a mixed bag. Emma Watson (Harry Potter series) as Belle may become her new career-defining role, while she does not disappear into the character, she embodies her to perfection. Her charismatic turn in this film is phenomenal, which makes it a shame that there is so little chemistry between her and Dan Stevens’ (Downton Abbey) Beast. This is not their fault, I imagine it’s rather difficult to create chemistry with a thing that doesn’t exist in the real world, however it does cast a large shadow over the film. While the casting of other characters is good too, I get the feeling that many of the actors were not given enough time to prepare for their roles. Shoddy French and Cockney accents populate many of the primary characters, which does take away from the experience when it counts. This is a shame considering the talent that worked on this film.
2017’s Beauty and the Beast is a formulaic, but still enjoyable, Disney film. In the range of these live action remakes, it sits pretty well in the middle, not as daring as The Jungle Book but more sophisticated than Cinderella. If you are excited to see this film, you will not be disappointed, it is everything you expect it to be and no more, but I cannot really fault it for that, can I?
The Finer Cut Awards Beauty and the Beast: