The tale as old as time returns to the big screen, this time in live-action, revisiting the classical story of a cursed, monstrous-looking prince and a beautiful young woman who fall in love. Disney has been remaking a lot of their best known films lately, including Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that a remake of another one of the most influential and timeless animated films was being released. Although Beauty and the Beast shares many similarities with the original film, it’s still wonderfully heartfelt and entertaining. Emma Watson is perfectly cast as Belle, who brings lots of courage and heart to her character and the film, and she contributes her great voice to some of the film’s best musical numbers. Though Dan Stevens may not yet be quite a well-known actor, his leading performance in Marvel and FX’s hit series Legion, and now in this as the menacing Beast, demonstrate his excellent talent and his career is sure to soar from here. Luke Evans is well-cast as Gaston, who is bright but menacing and does justice to the original incarnation of the character. Kevin Kline is also great as Belle’s father, but my favorite of the cast has to be Josh Gad as Gaston’s hilarious and charming sidekick LeFou. Gad seems to be Disney’s favorite, first having played the lovable snowman Olaf in Frozen, and now he’s given more hilarity, great lines, and even another musical number, all of which you won’t forget. LeFou wasn’t a standout character for me before, but Gad entertained and surprised me like I thought no one could in the role. Also fantastic are the voices of Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts.
What makes Beauty and the Beast such a fun time is that although the story is pretty much the same as we know it to be, it’s still able to use the talents of its great cast, writing, and directing to bring new elements and twists into the iconic visuals and story we love. There isn’t much you can re-imagine very easily with this Disney classic, unlike last year’s The Jungle Book, which almost felt like a new adventure because its visuals made the film feel like a very new experience. Beauty and the Beast doesn’t do that as well, as the story doesn’t stride away from what’s already been established, but the director still makes similar shots and scenes interesting in a new medium. Although you already know the story, the film breathes new light into the visuals, humor, and style of the film. It’s very familiar yet exciting at the same time. The costumes and sets are gorgeous, but not as much of the budget is put into the CGI, which is solid but could have been better, especially the motion capture work on the Beast. It’s unfortunate that Hollywood will soon remake every movie we love because of how much money they’ll make off of it, but this movie is able to preserve the magic Disney had created with it before and re-imagine it on the big screen. It is still a remake, but it’s one that will inspire kids who are new to the plot, and fill older generations and especially fans with nostalgia. The movie sticks to the musical nature of the animated film, so expect recreations of your favorite musical numbers, including “Belle”, “Gaston”, “Be our Guest”, and of course, the most famous “Beauty and the Beast”, just to name a few. These scenes are well-choreographed and the songs are so timeless that you still want to go back and listen to them after you watch the movie. Even if you know how the story ends, the movie will still make you rethink the film’s themes, want to sing and dance to the songs, and applaud at the end, like my entire audience did.
Beauty and the Beast follows the established formula that we know, but thankfully it’s not too familiar to not be enjoyed, with a great cast and visual appeal that do justice to its source material. Disney is coming at us with a handful of remakes, and thankfully this turns out to be one of the better ones. If you’re looking to revisit a classic or just have a good time at the movies with your family, then I’ll definitely recommend going out and paying to watch this on the big screen.