It has been said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Disney refuses to believe that and has proven otherwise with their live action remake of their animated classic Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. The question that everyone is asking: Is it like the original?
The answer: No. It’s BETTER!
Disney effectively reinvented the wheel by employing the same Academy Award winning composers and lyricists to bring forth the classic musical score used before, in addition to adding some new music to provide additional back story to the characters that was missing initially. Their casting of their ensemble cast was genius with Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, and Kevin Kline as Belle’s father, Maurice.
Yes, this remake kept true to the original, but the updated nuances that were strategically placed throughout the film are appreciated and will even be welcomed by viewers (e.g. Belle being portrayed as an inventor and advocate of girl’s education and not just an isolated bibliophile). It was also surprising to see the supporting cast as well as the background chorus members exhibiting multi-cultural representation; not just showing an all white cast and chorus. This act was not heavily flaunted but was a subtle sign of Disney understanding the need for true inclusion this time around; proving that magic belongs to everyone.
The only flaw that I found was Watson’s lack of vocal prowess in the film. I feel that casting set her up for failure in that department. I am sure the intention was to bolster her singing by surrounding her with strong Broadway singers such as Audra McDonald, but all that did was highlight how ill-fitted she was to next to all of the other vocal performances taking place in the film. Dan Stevens had the physical presence and the vocal dexterity; in addition to him bringing light yet, genuine wit to his role as Beast.
In terms of cinematography, it was amazing. In comparison to other live action remakes where the CGI was overused and gaudy, the proper balance was executed within Beauty and the Beast; using them only for highlight the mystical moments and putting them away at the proper times to remind us that this was still live action.
With this film, Disney has proven that it still has a little bit of magic still tucked away in its kingdom. Feel free to see this film again…for the first time.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (Emma’s vocal experience ruined it for me).