Popcorn Picks Review: Beauty and the Beast

Bethany Wade, Asst. Photography Editor

“Beauty and the Beast” is Disney’s fifth live action adaptation of one of its classic animated films. This is Disney’s new tradition of adapting classic films by taking an original film’s characters and story and adding or removing a few things to give audiences something new. It also introduces a new generation to the story many hold dear to their hearts. High expectations are put on these adaptations.

For those who consider Belle to be their favorite Disney princess, they’ll be glad to hear that this film does not ruin the character. Emma Watson plays her with the charisma and grace of a princess, but the tough attitude of a heroine as well. In terms of casting, Watson is a perfect fit for the character.

Vocally, Watson may not be the most musically skilled actress, but for what it’s worth, her vocals are wonderful. Her voice is not the strongest when it comes to carrying the film, but her vocals do leave you wanting more of her solos.

The supporting cast works well in the film. Luke Evans was born for the role of Gaston, both as an actor and a singer. However, the highlight of the entire film was Ian McKellen as Cogsworth. McKellen plays a backseat role in most scenes, yet he steals the show with his attempt to control the other staff members.

Dan Stevens, who plays the Beast, is out of place in the film. Not only is he unable to be a vocal lead, but his acting feels as fake as his character’s design. Because Beast is a CGI character, the acting must be done through verbal and physical gestures since the actor cannot rely on his facial expressions. Stevens fails to captivate audiences as the terrifying, yet gentle, Beast.

For a film with most of its characters turned into inanimate objects, the effects are fantastic. The sequence of “Be Our Guest” has the same magical charm as the original scene from the animated film. The CGI castle design feels nostalgic and modern at the same time.

However, CGI isn’t the best route for everything.

In the “Beauty and the Beast” number, it feels as though both Watson and Stevens are animated into the scene, failing to capture the magic the song is attempting to create. Many of the shots within the film felt too animated to the point that it threatens to become a full blown cartoon. Though most of the film had to be created using these computer animated effects, some scenes needed to be toned down.

The music in this film fails to compare to both the original 1991 film and the Broadway adaptation. The only performance that feels memorable is “Gaston,” with all others failing to draw the audience in. Emma Thompson’s rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” could be considered the second best, but such an iconic tune has been done so many times by so many performers that it makes it hard for her to bring something new to the table.

The worst song off the soundtrack is “Evermore.” The song not only shows the poor vocal casting in Stevens, the song itself does not fit the film’s tone. For a song that is about the pain of letting Belle go, not only does Stevens sound happy, but the scene itself also feels too active. The song was written for the movie, which questions why the composers chose to pick a song that didn’t flow with the rest of the film. A better option would have been “If I Can’t Love Her,” a track from the Broadway version that accomplishes the same task.

As Howard Ashman, one of the original songwriters on the film, wrote in 1991, “Bittersweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong.” Maybe the creative team behind this movie could learn something from the original and admit to the mistakes made during this production.

This may not have ruined your childhood, but if you’re looking for childhood nostalgia, just rewatch the original film.

Rating: Three and a half kernels out of five.

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Twitter: @BethanyWadeTWW