Beauty and the Remake
Over the years, as Disney has begun remaking each of their former animated classics, I've discovered that my reactions to these remakes fall along a wide scale. There's the one I detest (Maleficent) and the one I adore (Cinderella,) and everything in between (the ambivalence of The Jungle Book and Alice in Wonderland falls here.) From the previews, I got the sense that this film, unlike Maleficent, stayed incredibly true to the source material...so that had to be a good thing right? But the more I saw, the more it seemed that the film was just a literal reenactment of the animated film with little else to offer. After finally seeing it, the best thing I can say is that I didn't feel outraged as I watched it that it was a total ripoff....but I definitely didn't fall in love with it like I did Cinderella either.
Beauty and the Beast is a mixed bag. There are things that it gets right (such as the production design and costumes which really bring the fairy tale to life) and many things that made me scratch my head. Time to air some grievances. Emma Watson certainly makes a likable enough Belle, but she really isn't much of a singer. In fact, some of the musical sequences are the weakest part of the film because they're either TOO much like the original (the opening song Belle being one of the greatest offenders,) or they're new songs that don't manage to resonate or recapture the magic to belong alongside the other classic tunes. Too often the new songs are used to compensate for character development, and in a live action film that just didn't work for me. In many scenes, these new songs are used as placeholders for why characters make certain decisions, or why they feel a certain way...but it just comes across as hollow when some well thought out dialogue could have done the trick and shaved off a few more minutes from the runtime. Other random complaints include that the beast's CGI is a bit all over the place, Emma Thompson plays her part as if just doing a terrible impression of Angela Lansbury, and some of the CGI designs of the furniture just are kinda ugly (again sorry Mrs. Potts.)
The film is best when it's trying not to rely too hard on its source material (minus the new songs), but when in doubt, it is certainly what the filmmakers fall back on. It feels a bit lazy, but at the same time....it's not exactly an unpleasant film experience. I never found myself hating it. I'm sure that's not the greatest praise, but to be honest, I expected this to be as bad as Psycho 1999! Of course I wish it took more risks like Cinderella did, in just making the story their own, yet still honoring the classic its based upon. I feel like ditching the musical aspect of this would have helped, but alas. The filmmakers were too scared to do anything but pay respect to the animated film. RATING: 6.5/10