For any Disney fan, this new trend of live action remakes is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, we get a new look at some of most beloved classics – new visuals, new background, sometimes even new songs – but what if they ruin it? Change the way we view the original? And since the original films are already so well loved, what’s the point?
These are all questions worth considering regarding the new updated Beauty and the Beast. As a very faithful adaptation to the original, this new version of the story is almost exactly the same: Belle (Emma Watson) is a modern woman living in a backwards small town, dreaming of adventure. When her father is captured by a reclusive Beast, she takes her place, fearing her dreams of adventure are over, but with the Beast and his castle under a tragic spell, this could be the adventure she’s been waiting for. These extreme similarities aren’t necessarily a bad thing, as the original story is such a beautiful tale, but if there’s only going to be minor changes to the story, why bother making a new one?
However, the small changes made to the story do fill out a few of the holes and modernise the more outdated elements of the original. Whether it’s Belle as the family inventor, some context to the Beast and his family, or a full backstory to Belle’s mother and why they left Paris, these new additions to create little surprises along the way that develop the story and make it less predictable. The original, wonderful story is also enriched by the stunning visuals, which are certainly an upgrade from the animated version; the castle is gorgeous, the town is so colourful and alive, like you could walk right through it yourself, and the famous ballroom dance scene is simply enchanting, a pure fairy-tale. Not all of the CGI comes off perfectly – Lumiere and the Beast are occasionally very distracting – but overall the look of the film is mesmerising and elegant.
The classic songs from the original in this version are just as good as we remembered, but the new songs added into the mix also make this newer version worth the watch, with Days in the Sun and Evermore tugging at the heartstrings, bolstered by the brilliant cast. Emma Watson was the perfect choice for Belle, giving her so much strength and heart, transforming the character and allowing such a brilliant role model for young women to truly shine. Opposite her as the Beast, Dan Stevens powers through his CGI, managing to make the Beast so incredibly sympathetic and expressive that you almost prefer him as the Beast. Luke Evans and Josh Gad are scene stealers as Gaston and Le Fou, their chemistry off the charts and their songs some of the best, but it’s a shame they don’t get to play a huge role in the film; instead, Kevin Kline steals the show, his few scenes being some of the most emotional, yet subtle, in the whole film. And the dream team of Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Emma Thompson are wonderful together, despite some iffy CGI at times, but they aren’t as compelling as the human characters, acting more as background characters this time around.
When all is said and done, one controversial question rises to the top: did we need a new version of Beauty and the Beast? Do we need new versions of any of Disney’s best movies? Aren’t the old ones enough? Whilst 2016’s Jungle Book is a step up because the original isn’t perfect, Disney making newer versions of its better movies is a harder sell because the originals are so good, and there isn’t much room for improvement. It helps that this new Beauty and the Beast is wonderful, whether you’re a hard-core Disney fan or just love a good fairy-tale; but at this point, more live action remakes are coming whether we like them or not. As long as they continue to make them as well as this, hopefully there will be more successful ones to come.
This cast is so wonderful, so here’s my top five favourite movies starring the cast of Beauty and the Beast:
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Emma Watson and Emma Thompson
- Moulin Rouge! – Ewan McGregor
- X-Men 2 – Ian McKellen
- Love Actually – Emma Thompson
- Easy A – Stanley Tucci
Photos taken from IMDB.com: