Review: Beauty and the Beast
Whoever's idea it was to open the Disney vault and recreate these timeless stories with living actors deserves a raise. Not because this film, and The Jungle Book before it, is a masterpiece-because it isn't. But what it is is a naked appeal to our collective nostalgia and desire to pass down our childhood memories to new generations. It is also aided by the fact that the source material is so strong that it's hard to really see where they could go wrong. There is a certain universal charm to these tales that reaches across nearly every cross-section of society. Put simply, Beauty and the Beast has just enough Disney magic working in its favor that it would be hard not to make a winner.
The actual story is a legend at this point. A woman with mystical powers puts a castle under a spell--turning the prince into a beast and all of his staff into inanimate objects. They are to remain this way until the prince finds someone who will love him forever. After a long time trapped in a snowy castle like this, along comes Belle (played by Emma Watson), a young woman from the countryside who is originally taken prisoner in the castle, but winds up gaining the affection of the Beast.
As they get closer and closer, the supporting cast works to make sure their love will stick and the spell will be reverse, but Belle's home-life threatens to derail their best laid plans.
This is what happens when you Disney-fy Disney. It is like a section of the theme parks brought to life and turned up to 11. In spots, it works beautifully. In others--specifically scenes involving Gaston (played by Luke Evans and LeFou (played by Josh Gad)--something just feels off. Miscast, miswritten and misdirected, every time we left the castle felt like a let-down. That coupled with certain odd visual elements left a few scenes feeling half baked. More Beast and Belle and less everything else would have gone a long way, but the story is the story and it is hard to complain too much when the end result is so satisfying.
I, for one, am glad these films are as high quality as they are. Not only because these are the stories of my youth, but because Disney shows no signs of slowing down. Mulan, Alladin, The Little Mermaid. If they all do as much to live up to their predecessors as Beauty and the Beast, bring them on!
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