Since Disney found box office success with the recent Jungle Book, Pete’s Dragon, and Cinderella movies, the Mouse House is now determined to turn every animated classic into new live-action remakes. The movie studio has 80 years of storylines and characters to mine from, and it’s only a matter of time before Disney remakes all of the classics. But for now, Beauty and the Beast is the latest from the Walt Disney Company, as the new live-action remake will surely dazzle audiences, while also reminding them that this is just a cover version of the original animated film from 1991.
The new Beauty and the Beast is a full 45 minutes longer than its predecessor and features an expanded storyline and plot points, new characters, and new musical numbers. We all know the story of the original – Belle feels trapped in her small town and finds something more in an enchanted castle where a menacing, but gentle Beast lives. But what makes the new remake different from the original is needless padding. Outside of the CGI and costume design, there’s nothing about the new remake that’s better than the original.
Sure it plays on the same beats and slightly different interpretations of the Oscar-nominated animated version, but nothing is really improved. In fact, it’s arguably worse at times. As Belle, Emma Watson’s singing is weak and auto-tuned. Emma Thompson’s Mrs. Potts is also considerably weak when compared to Angela Lansbury, and Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen’s Lumière and Cogsworth, respectively, doesn’t have the same rat-a-tat back-and-forth as Jerry Orbach and David Ogden Stiers’ performances. It’s almost as if there wasn’t enough care and attention brought to the making of the new Beauty and the Beast.
This is a misstep in replicating why the original struck a chord with audiences back in 1991. A lot of that has to do with the performances, first and foremost, but the new version is just weak sauce. When Belle sings that she wants more from life than her little town, you want to believe her and go along with her on that journey, but in the new movie, she just seems bored and passionless.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
See what I mean? But is it fair to compare the new version to the old, especially when the new movie is trying to do something different? I would say, it is fair to compare the two movies, especially since most of it reminds you of the original. While there are a few deviations and detours, like LeFou’s (Josh Gad) sexuality, the new Beauty and the Beast constantly reminds you of the original from its opening to its ending. In some ways, the different take is appreciated, such as the aforementioned LeFou, Luke Evans’ Gaston (surprisingly, Luke Evans can sing!), and Kevin Kline’s Maurice, who more grounded than over-the-top, it’s still pretty much the same movie as the original, but needlessly longer and not as fun or catchy. It’s just a bit flat.