‘Beauty and the Beast’ Isn’t A Great Remake But Pretty Darn Close
“Beauty and the Beast” is a tale as old as time and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Disney has given us quite a few remakes over the last few years (most of them good) with many more to come in the next few. So what is it about this particular remake that has had audiences so excited, nervous or a combination of the two?
The original “Beauty and the Beast” often has a special place in the hearts of Disney fans and considered by many to be the best piece of animation the studio has ever produced (including yours truly) and has been revered at a level that “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book,” and “Sleeping Beauty” have never quite been able to achieve. Naturally, that leaves the “Beauty and the Beast” remake with some massive shoes to fill and while it doesn’t quite achieve that feat, they manage to come surprisingly close.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 5
Pretty much every actor involved here was perfectly cast for their part and as far as the actual performances there is no real weak spot to be found though there were certainly a couple standout performances.
If there was one casting I was worried about going in, it was Luke Evans as Gaston. His career has generally come off as a less embarrassing version of Jai Courtney’s: consistently getting work in major studio films while displaying the apparent charisma of a baked potato. In a shocking turn of events though, Evans was arguably the best part of the movie. He perfectly exhibits the buffoonery and brash arrogance that made Gaston one of the best parts of the original film and one of Disney’s greatest villains.
As far as the plot goes, the original story has largely been left intact. Much like the “Cinderella” remake, director Bill Condon and writers Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos take what was already a great story and try to give it more depth, though the remake’s script could stand to be about 20 minutes shorter. Chbosky and Spiliotopoulos write in backstory and explanations to some of the often criticized elements of the original. Whether or not these tweaks make the film better or worse will likely depend on the viewer.
One thing that certainly can’t be denied though is that the visuals are spectacular. As the side by side videos have shown, there is a tremendous attention to detail and reverence to the original. Again though, whether or not this adds to the film will likely depend on the viewer.
Entertainment Value – 4.5
Alan Menken returned to compose the film’s music, which included writing several new songs. The new songs aren’t really anything special but everyone involved brought their A-game with the greatest hits. For example, Ewan McGregor’s rendition of “Be Our Guest” is every bit as entertaining as Jerry Orbach’s. While this version’s “Belle,” “Gaston,” “Something There” and “Beauty and the Beast” aren’t as good as their 1991 counterparts, they’re still well done songs in their own right and I wouldn’t mind adding this soundtrack to my collection.
Overall, the film is one notch below the original but one element that the remake actually does better is the relationship between Gaston and LeFou and admittedly some of that probably has to do with LeFou being gay and in love with Gaston in this version. In the original, LeFou is little more than a lackey that just kind of goes along with whatever Gaston wants to do. With the remake though, LeFou serves as Gaston’s voice of reason whenever he’s about to do something stupid (which is often). Another interesting element is that unlike the original where Gaston generally ignores LeFou until he wants something from him, this version appears to genuinely value LeFou’s friendship and has no problem saying so.
Re-Watchability – 4
One of the things that made last year’s “The Jungle Book” so great was the original being light enough on story (and some notoriously lazy animation by Disney standards) that it left enough room for Jon Favreau to not only bring something new to the table but to make the overall story better. Therein lies the rub for “Beauty and the Beast.” The original is such a wonderful combination of story, animation and music that there’s not much Condon and company can really add to it. Watching either version would be a great way to spend the afternoon but if I had to recommend just one, I’d stick with the original.
"Beauty and the Beast" is a well made remake who's only crime is not quite living up to the original. It won't quite live up to the original's legacy but it's still a very enjoyable watch in its own right.