Movie Review: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ reboot rose to the occasion

‘Beauty and the Beast’ proves Disney’s live-action reboots can feel familiar and new at the same time


Casey Loving, Reporter

No one reboots like Disney, cashes loot like Disney, steals ideas from cinema’s roots like Disney. As a business, it is intimidating, but no one reboots like Disney.

On Disney’s tirade to remake every beloved classic in their collection, a live-action “Beauty and the Beast”  was next on the list. With the original being regarded as one of the best animated films of all time (and the first of three animated movies to score a Best Picture nomination), I was hesitant for the remake.

The original “Beauty and the Beast” was a stunning movie that fully utilized the animation abilities of the time. With a perfect cast, amazing songs, and a beautiful story about a tale as old as time, “Beauty and the Beast” seemed like a tough act for a live-action retelling to follow. Luckily for the $174 million worth of people who went out to see the movie its opening weekend, this might be the best adaptation Disney could’ve made.

I was shocked at how much I enjoyed the “Beauty and the Beast” remake. Even though I liked “The Jungle Book”, I haven’t been a huge fan of Disney’s live-action retellings. While many of them try to shake the original story up, it always seemed like the final products were complete retreads, or made worse by the twist (“Maleficent“). Even though “Beauty and the Beast” seems like a shot-for-shot retelling in places, it never felt like anything less than fun.

My biggest interest walking into “Beauty and the Beast” was seeing how certain aspects of the original would translate to live-action. Between the animated version’s grand musical numbers (particularly “Be Our Guest”) and its less-than-realistic character designs, I wasn’t sure the retelling could be anything more than laughable.

Whatever hesitations I had quickly slipped away when I saw the beautiful world the movie had created. Character designs that seemed awkward and clunky to me quickly became cute and lively. The beast himself had a look that let him change from menacing to charming on a dime. Even locations as simple as the French town or Beast’s castle impossible to take your eyes off of.

Another aspect of the film that had me worried was the music. The original “Beauty and the Beast” had an amazing soundtrack that can’t be beat, but while some songs suffered from a redo (like the titular song), there are many worthy additions to Disney’s library.

Of the new songs, my favorite was hands-down “Evermore.” The song, sung by Dan Stevens as the Beast, comes at a pivotal part of the movie where the Beast’s luck has once again turned bad. The song perfectly encapsulates the emotion of the scene, being gut wrenching (although that hasn’t stopped me from listening to it 20 times). I was also a huge fan of the movie’s version of the classic song “Gaston,” the only redo that I think is actually superior to the original. Josh Gad goes all out on this song, making what is probably the most entertaining musical number in the film.

This brings me to my favorite part of “Beauty and the Beast,” the characters. Although they are nowhere near the original portrayals, I think Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellon made a good pairing as the iconic Lumiere and Cogsworth. Being a huge fan of Dan Stevens’s work on Legion (one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time), it was nice to see him find some success in such a big role. My favorite characters had to be LeFou (Gad) and Gaston (Luke Evans). Their chemistry was great, Evans’s portrayal of Gaston was spot on, and it was nice to see such depth added to the previously-one-dimensional character of LeFou.

While by and large the cast was strong, my biggest problem in the movie came with my favorite casting prior to the film’s release: Emma Watson as Belle. Watson’s notable role as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” series made it seem like she would be a perfect fit for the role of Belle, but she simply is not a singer. Every song she was in stuck out like a sore thumb due to her audio enhancements, and even when she wasn’t singing she felt like one of the weaker characters in the movie. I would’ve much preferred the role go to “Supergirl” star Melissa Benoist, who has proven in that show she can play smart and independent. Benoist also has the musical talent necessary, as seen in her roles in “Glee” and, most recently, the delightful musical crossover of “Supergirl” and “The Flash.”

Overall, I thought the 2017 reboot of “Beauty and the Beast” was better than I expected it to be. While nothing about the movie was particularly groundbreaking, it gave me the fun time I hope for when I go to a theater. The reboot may not have surpassed the original film, but that expectation is about as unrealistic as a fairy tale.