Live Action Beauty and the Beast

  • Directed by Bill Condon
  • February 23, 2017 (Spencer House) / March 17, 2017 (US)
  • Based on Disney’s 1991 animated film Beauty and the Beast / Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s 1756 fairy tale Beauty and the Beast

After being imprisoned in a castle a young woman learns that to break a curse a prince who was magically transformed into a monster must learn to love and earn that love in return before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose or else he will remain in his beastly form forever.


What happens when a young girl gets locked in a castle with an exceedingly hairy individual with anger management issues? She gets into the furry lifestyle and suffers a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome before changing her captor’s heart. All this and more in the wacky and heartwarming Beauty and the Beast! I know I recycled this bit but this is a remake so…

Having seen the live action Pinocchio as well as the live action Lion King prior to watching this I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. Would it be a dumpster fire, or would it be something not too bad? There were equal chances of triumph and travesty given the Disney track record with live action remakes.

While I am not prepared to call this version a masterpiece, it is certainly is a good film. It takes a little more time with the narrative and focuses on developing an actual relationship between Belle (Emma Watson) and Beast (Dan Stevens) in a much better way than the last film did. We get more of the characters connecting rather than them ending up together because that is what is supposed to happen. And they still do not use his name in this movie! The closest we get are titles or references connected to his station.

This Beauty and the Beast is pretty much the same story with bits and pieces here and there added into the previous version that flesh out the narrative without making it a completely different thing. In fact, many of the same songs are kept in with one or two additions along with a near identical script. In my opinion, this does what remakes should and improves upon what came before rather than slapping familiar names on vaguely or unrelated material. It works to fix the flaws of the original.

Where it goes wrong with that is that it expands upon Gaston’s (Luke Evans) sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad). LeFou has a much bigger part here and rather than being a sycophantic sidekick he appears to have an attraction to Gaston. He is not a player in the story so why?

Gaston also manages to convince the villagers to send Belle’s father Maurice (Kevin Kline) to the asylum all on his own rather than conspire with Monsieur D’Arque to get him in there. Not a major change in that. D’Arque was not a significant character. In fact the two mentioned elements here are the only really noticeable changes of the story to me.

The character motivations are the same. Beast needs real love to end the curse. Belle is the bibliophile of the village. Belle gets in her situation to save her father. Gaston causes all the problems because he wants Belle as a trophy wife.

The main drawback in the presentation is the heavy CGI. While I don’t think you could’ve done Beast as effectively in a purely animatronic form, there were options beyond pure CGI. I am suggesting a marriage of the two. YouTube is replete with videos of people taking old effects and cleaning them up in some way using computers. It creates some rather impressive stuff that can look amazing real.

But what we get in Beauty and the Beast 2017 is a completely CGI Beast and heavily CGI environments which makes it look more like something from Pixar than a live action feature. This may be good in the short term but in the long term I think harms the film. It certainly took me out watching this for the first time, and as movies age things like CGI age poorly.

This is a multimillion-dollar project from the House of Mouse and I think they could’ve swung a few bucks to do a special effects combo pack. It would have aged better and just generally aided with the immersion in the story.

The cast is surprisingly good. Not only are they all talented performers and play their parts well, but all the main characters look as if they could’ve been the visual inspiration for the animated movie. The people that did this seem to have a real appreciation for the source material and did what they did here towards honoring the source material rather than ripping it off.

Ultimately, the live action version of Beauty and the Beast is a fine version of the story that stands as a companion to its predecessor. Aside from excessive CGI, it’s an enjoyable movie and largely improves upon the shortcomings of the original. I think if you liked the original, you will enjoy this one as well.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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