I really wanted Beauty and the Beast to be great. I wanted it to be the best remake that Disney has done yet. I even pondered before seeing it if it could garner a Best Picture Oscar Nomination like the animated film. It fell short of this for me and I still feel that “The Jungle Book” is the best remake that Disney has done to this point. However, Beauty and the Beast is still very good and worth seeing.
Visually this film is stunning. It starts with the detail in the costumes of the villagers and continues through to the computer generated enchanted objects in the castle. I thought Beast looked a little too much like an animated character and less realistic than the others, but that is just a minor quip. Scenes like the “Be Our Guest” and the Ballroom scene seemed to jump off the screen.
The lighting in the film is also very well done. The Beast’s Castle, while dark and dreary, never seemed too depressing which could have easily changed the feel of the movie. The skies were also beautifully lit during parts of the film.
Unfortunately, the music is where the film fell short for me. Specifically, Emma Watson’s singing. She sounded like her voice had obviously been “enhanced” through auto-tune or some other means in a studio. The film was also missing some of the Belle’s most popular songs from the Broadway version, such as “A Change in Me” or “Home.” My feeling is that these were probably left our because she did not have the vocal range to pull them off and they didn’t want to push it. Belle has always been portrayed great singers such as Paige O’Hara, Susan Egan, and Ashley Brown. Emma Watson is simply not that caliber of singer. I guess Disney made the casting decision to go with big name star instead of someone a little less famous that could handle Belle’s more demanding songs.
On the bright side, I thought Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, and Audra McDonald did a great job handling their songs. There were some new songs written for this film, the best being the Beast’s song “Evermore”. It would have been great if they could have also fit “If I Can’t Love Her” into the film.
I though Alan Menken’s score was amazing and hopefully he receives another Oscar nomination for this film. The score was grand and fit the scope of the film. He was also able to fit the melodies of some of the Broadway songs which had been left (such as “Home”) into the score.
Overall this was a very good film that any Disney fan or fan of the animated classic should go see. There are laughs throughout and emotional scenes as well. I even heard some tears during the screening. The storyline is basically unchanged from the 1991 animated film (with some more background on the characters layered in), so this is a testament to the greatness of the story, character development, and acting that the film could bring people to tears. The point being that people knew what was coming, but were still so deeply invested in the story that they were moved to tears.