I will freely admit that I am a Beauty and the Beast fanatic, and waited with baited breath for the 2017 live action remake of the 1991 Disney animated classic to hit theaters this past March. In true fan fashion, I saw the new film twice during the week it was released, once in 3-D, and once on a regular screen.
The nostalgia of the 1991 release is nicely preserved in the remake, and the story line is followed relatively faithfully, while still expanding on the original version and creating a lush environment which could only be created through live action and CGI. The 2017 version visually dazzles in a way that the animated version never could, and that was indeed a thrill for me.
The live action film was cast quite nicely, and characters who were already quite interesting and colorful in their own right became even more amusing and multi-dimensional, thanks to the actors’ portrayals. I especially loved Kevin Kline’s portrayal of Maurice. Overall, I loved the 2017 film, but there will always be a special place in my heart for the 1991 animated classic.
Here’s where I mince things apart a bit. Despite the fact that Audra McDonald (who plays Madame Garderobe) is a six-time Tony winner, her voice grated on my nerves like nobody’s business, with its shrillness, its over-the-top trillings. It was enough to make me squirm in my seat each time she sang. I’m not big on musicals, especially when a lyric soprano musically rants like a mad bird (sorry, just my opinion).
Dan Stevens is rather convincing as the Beast, and does a nice job of conveying the myriad of emotions which the Beast experiences (rage, grief, frustration, shame, love). But like the prince in the animated version, the prince restored from the lifted curse was incredibly bland and unexciting. It was like eating a zesty, delicious meal (the Beast), and then getting a bowl of day-old porridge for the final course (the prince). I found Luke Evans as Gaston much more enticing, not only because his face naturally has more character, but also because he so convincingly played the narcissist vying for Belle’s affections that he was just more believable.
Lastly, while Emma Watson is a capable singer, and delivers a decent portrayal of the independent, bibliophile Belle, she wasn’t what I pictured when imagining Belle as a real person. By no means is Watson “gorgeous” like Gaston’s line in the song “Little Town” suggests. The line goes: “Right from the moment when I met her, saw her, I said ‘she’s gorgeous’ and I fell.” Yeah, right. I can see that in the 1991 animated film, but Watson is NOT gorgeous. She may be cute, or as a friend mentioned, handsome, but gorgeous? No. Beautiful? No. Even when Watson donned the yellow ball gown for the ever so famous dancing scene, there was nothing about her which could be regarded as breathtaking.
Nevertheless, I would watch the 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast again and again. I truly did love the film and plan to purchase the DVD to add to my collection of favorite films.