By Chase McNaughton// Staff Writer
The original “Beauty and the Beast” was a huge part of my childhood, and it was my favorite of all the Disney movies. To this day, I still think it is one of Disney’s best. The songs were catchy, the animation was beautiful, the characters were flawless, and it contained a lot of that Disney magic that we all know and love. If you ask me, the animated Beauty and the Beast was the glory of Disney in a nutshell.
But, I’m sad to say that my expectations were not met for the remake. If I’m being completely honest, I am not a fan of these new live action Disney movies. I thought “Beauty and the Beast” was going to be the best out of the remakes, but it manages to be just like the rest of them. I am aware that some people enjoy them, but there is a majority of fans that say Disney is desecrating their original classics. I, however, do not think they are ruining the originals. I just see these remakes as pointless paycheck movies for their company. Disney could be running out of ideas, so they are trying to make their old movies relevant again. However, I believe that a remake is only necessary if you plan to make it better than the original. Unfortunately, none of them have surpassed their predecessors. “Jungle Book” was the only one that felt like a step in the right direction, but it was mainly due to the visual effects.
Let’s dive into what makes this movie a letdown. First, let me talk about the things that I liked about this movie. Luke Evans was enjoyable as the character of Gaston. Not quite as balanced and entertaining as the animated version, but he was still loyal to the original. The casting was spot on. I thought everyone looked the part. The interior of the castle was visually nice, despite how fake the entire exterior was portrayed. You can definitely tell when watching this film which CGI effects are good and which ones are phoned in.
The bad things, on the other hand, outweigh those good things. I’m not vocally trained, so I can’t judge the singing too much. But I can confidently say that none of the singing was great, especially Emma Watson’s. I will defend her a little bit by saying that it’s not an actress’s job to sing; their job is to act. However, even by an acting standpoint, Watson is only passable at best. Emma Watson looks like a princess, but she lacks the charm, emotional range and humanity that we all know from the original Belle. Watson is not bad; she just comes off as bland and uninteresting.
Despite a few performances, the rest of the ensemble is also bland at times. This movie is trying its best to look like the original, sound like the original, but it does not portray the original. For example, “Be Our Guest” was the song that I was looking forward to the most. I get a nostalgic rush every time I hear it, and Ewen McGregor was singing. He did Moulin Rouge, so I was expecting something pretty great. I was so pumped, but it did not pay off. The pacing, the melody, the chorus, all of it was changed and lacked the emotional impact of magic and wonder that the original did so well. The rest of the songs were the same, just replaced with people who were trying to sing. Another factor that got under my skin was the effect on the animated objects that came off as scary. Those objects were charming in the original because it was a cartoon. There are some things that animation can get away with that live action can’t, and this is a perfect example. The wardrobe was by far freakiest out of all the characters. I can totally see these effects being a young child’s nightmares for the next few weeks.
So with all that being said, “Beauty and the Beast” is disappointing, but it’s not a train wreck. This movie could have been a lot worse and remaking a beloved classic is not an easy task. It’s like remaking “Back To The Future” or “The Godfather.” There are just some movies that should just be left alone. But, when you get down to it, it is by no means terrible. People still laughed at the jokes, they still applauded at the end, and they still walked out happy. It also made me want to rewatch the original “Beauty and the Beast.” So, if there is any benefit that comes out of these live action remakes, it would probably be the nostalgia factor. I think Disney is aware that their remakes aren’t as good as the originals that made them who they are today, but maybe they are trying to remind us of how great their old movies are. Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather have them move forward, instead of revisiting old projects. But, they are still the studio who are giving us Pixar, the new “Star Wars” sequels, and the epic universe of Marvel superheroes. As long as they stay true to those movies, they are allowed to make a mistake or two.