Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Rated PG: For Violence, and Some Scary Scenes

Running Time: 129 minutes (2 hours and 9 minutes)

Genre/s: Adaptation, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Released on March 17, 2017 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Walt Disney Pictures, Mandeville Films, and Walt Disney Motion Pictures

Based on "Beauty and the Beast" by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villianueve, the rewritten version by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, and the similarly titled 1991 animated flick.

Writers: Stephen Chbosky and Evan Stiliotopoulus

Director: Bill Condon

  • Emma Watson as Belle
  • Dan Stevens as The Beast / The Prince
  • Luke Evans as Gaston
  • Kevin Kline as Maurice
  • Josh Gad as LeFou
  • Ewan McGregor as Lumière
  • Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza
  • Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe
  • Gugu-Mbatha Raw as Plumette
  • Ian McKellen as Cogsworth
  • Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts

Disney continues their initially unsuccessful, and now thriving animated to live-action makeover, with the most logical choice of all. Some may call them as "reinterpretations", but I for one, would usually call them as "cash grabs", because in all honesty, Disney could be doing a lot more original productions at this time, or could even be adapting other source materials worthy of the traditional Disney treatment. But I will admit this, some of their most recent remakes have been pretty darn entertaining. For our latest movie review, we tackle brick-for-brick the recently released near shot-for-shot recreation of the first ever animated movie to be nominated for the Best Picture Award. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is our review of the Beauty and the Beast remake.

What is the movie about?

Relive the tale as old time, in this contemporary remake of the animated favorite!

In the time before the French Revolution, in the village of Villianueve, Belle, played by Watson (The Harry Potter Film Series), is a headstrong and incredibly bright outcast, who everyone assumes is strange (because apparently, just because someone reads he or she is already weird), who longs for a life outside of Villianueve, and lives with his widower father Maurice, played by Kline. While the entire village seems to find her unattractive, only the womanizing Gaston, played by Evans, who is continuously supported by his close confidant LeFou, played by Gad (the animated Frozen), actually carries feelings for Belle, but they remain unrequited.

One day, outside Villianueve, Maurice went out to do some errands, and is stranded in a seemingly quiet castle after a snow storm, only to find out that the place is inhabited by sentient household items, including a smooth talking candle holder, Lumière, played by McGregor (The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy), a strict and stern clock, Cogsworth, played by McKellen (Both Evans and McKellen appeared in The Hobbit Trilogy), a stressed out harpsichord, Maestro Cadenza, played by Tucci (Captain America: The First Avenger), the latter's opera singer wife, Madame de Garderobe, played by McDonald (Both Kline and McDonald appeared in Ricki and The Flash), Lumière's lover, Plumette, played by Mbatha-Raw (Concussion), and a mother teapot, Mrs. Potts, played by Thompson (Stranger Than Fiction).

He is then held prisoner by the ruler of the domain, The Beast, played by Stevens (Colossal), and in a bid to rescue her father, Belle offers herself in Maurice's place. Through this, a story unlike any other unfolds, and both Belle and The Beast soon realize that "there must be something that wasn't there before", love.

What we think of the movie?

Normally, when it comes to most remakes out there, such as the Poltergeist reboot, and also The Amazing Spider-Man film series, almost nothing new is added that makes these films much more superior than the originals. In the case of this movie, we do revisit the already oh-so familiar places that we once explored in the animated version, and, for some, even the Broadway rendition of the story. But fellow moviegoers, I must give you a heads-up, this movie might be relying a little too heavily on the family-friendly originals, but there is never a dull moment during the movie viewing experience, even if you really just cannot help but nostalgically recall and compare several key moments and scenes from the past.

One the best things that I can say about this movie is the absolutely phenomenal cast. Emma Watson, who was originally approached to partake in another brilliant musical in the form of the award-winning musical, La La Land, presents a showcase of not just her acting prowess, but also her melodic gifts. Her portrayal of an independent Belle, who is also particularly gifted intellectually, is a nice touch that was added by Emma, being the feminist after all. Dan Stevens, the star of one of mine and Dad's favorite shows, Legion, is great as the titular Beast, as he brings the character to a much more sympathetic light, just like how it was almost done in the animated version. Kevin Kline's portrayal of Maurice, with some added elements of backstory injected into this rendition, is also a noteworthy addition.

With Luke Evans portraying the love-to-hate main antagonist Gaston, in all of his villainous vainglory, you know that you are in for a devil of a good time. As Gaston, audience are treated once more to an insidiously charismatic, yet plentifully cold-hearted, morally questionable, yet undeniably dashing hopeless romantic, who is a twisted reflection of a man so consumed by his own pride, that he actually thinks that he deserves all of the power and fame in the world.

But behind every potential psychopath is a gentle and friendly sidekick that, for some reason, still sticks around his best friend, even if his friend is a murdering egomaniac, and that man is none other than Josh Gad's LeFou, who is also the first openly gay character in a Disney film. As LeFou, Gad delivers a certain degree of heart to his somewhat predictable role of the often overlooked close friend.

And though they might be in smaller, and noticeably unrecognizable, roles than they should have, Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson, Gugu-Mbatha Raw, Audra McDonald, and of course, the ever-charming Ewan McGreogor, deliver some more of the film's most heartwarming moments, even though you cannot actually see them behind all of the computer-generated animations. Also, Audra McDonald has quite the singing voice!

For an average Senior high school student like me, who somehow has a soft-spot for visually striking musical numbers in big screen works, this live-action re-imagination towards a certain measure certainly does not disappoint in the melodic front. Here, you would have all the opportunities in the world to fondly reminisce about your childhood days, singing along to age-old classic songs , with some added twists, such as "Gaston", "Belle", "Be Our Guest", but aside from the ones that you are already familiar with, get ready to listen to some new materials, such as "Evermore" and "Days in the Sun". And speaking of "Evermore", I would consider this song as the best out of the entire soundtrack, as, aside from it perfectly reflecting the Beast's personal and inner struggles of coming into terms with him realizing that he really has fallen in love with Belle, it is really just so dang spectacular. You can only rely on powerful vocals from its cast members, as well as the graces of the movie's dance choreographers, veteran musician Alan Menken, a composer from the animated version as well, and other guest artists Celine Dion, Josh Groban, John Legend, who also appeared in La La Land, and Ariana Grande, to make this totally expected cash-grab musical a surefire mega hit!

But all praise aside, I have to be honest with the story though. As much as I would love to have an overly faithful adaptation of the animated original, I would normally expect something that would add a little more expansion, or basically, a lot of new concepts to the table. We get the same songs, although with some mild adjustments, with one instance being a funny one in the revised "Gaston" number, the same scenes, and the same ending, which was pretty much necessary. This remake, while it does flesh-out the characters a little bit more, in contrast to the animated 1991 movie, as evidenced by the revelation that the Beast had a very unhappy childhood, stemmed from his prideful father's influence, in the aftermath of his mother's death, as well as the revelation that Belle's own mother died from catching the Black Plague, there really is not much new ground here.

For the most part, as you might have noticed by our recent choice of words, most fans, especially Dad, who, surprisingly for me, recalled the animated flick by heart, would instinctively compare and contrast these two films, making this remake completely predictable. Fine, I might not have remembered the movie the way Dad does, namely because I have not watched the entire movie exactly, but I can tell if a movie is plentifully foreseeable.

But hey, at least it is better than openly destroying everything that the fans loved. The newly added twists, such as the ones that we have previously mentioned, and the expansion of how the Beast's curse works, and the emotional stories for other minor characters, making way for further character development, do make this movie a tad bit more distinguishable from the original. However, I wonder what would happen if we actually get an incredibly darker adaptation of the fairy tale, since the source material had its fair share of incredibly twisted moments, if I am not mistaken. Just imagine the amount of childhood memories ruined by such movie!

Lastly, the CGI, specifically the designs of all of our household appliance-themed characters, seem kind of awkward. For one thing, in contrast to the animated version, these look way more outlandish and far more cartoonish. I do agree with the fact that this is a live-action, and that all of the characters should look as realistic as possible, in some way, but seriously, most of them look ridiculous, but mind you, none of these minor cons would ruin the movie for you. Trust us, this is one rare remake that, despite its shortcomings, is still entertaining in its own right, even if you would frequently yearn to rewatch the original movie.

Overall, this awesome and fun remake, even though relying way too much on the animated film, still manages to be worth the audiences' time, thanks to a handful of brilliant performances, and noteworthy songs to sing-along to!

And this is where we conclude our official movie review of the Beauty and the Beast remake. But before you switch websites, as part of our usual tradition of ending a post with a video related to the post, please enjoy this hilarious trailer spoof from "ArtSpear Entertainment." Also, check out their superhero crossover video, featuring notable characters from both movies and popular television programs, including comicbooks. It will just blow you away. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


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