Disney has found a new formula to rake in the dollars. Take an established, popular animated movie from their library, and remake it in live action. To date, we have seen Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Maleficent & The Jungle Book. There is almost a dozen more being filmed or in the planning stages (The Lion King, Mulan, Dumbo, Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, 101 Dalmatians…) Aside from the dopey Alice sequel from 2016, every one of these movies so far has been an unqualified blockbuster. The newest of these live action remakes, Beauty and the Beast, has already grossed over a billion dollars worldwide in only 5 weeks. Is the movie any good though?
Years ago, a greedy prince (Stevens) was cursed and turned into a hideous Beast, and the memory of he and his castle were erased from the minds of the local townsfolk. The only way for the curse to be broken is if he can find love before the final petal falls from a magical rose. Belle (Watson), a young woman who live in the nearby town, wants nothing more than to escape small town life yet cannot bear to leave her father (Kline) behind. One day while on an errand, her father is taken prisoner by the Beast, so Belle offers herself up in his place. While confined to Beast’s castle, she begins to see through his gruff exterior and he slowly starts to warm up to his guest. Unfortunately Gaston (Evans), who demands Belle’s hand in marriage, isn’t about to sit back and let the two stay together.
As far as these remakes go, Beauty is heads above the rest. Even though the new version is pretty much a carbon copy of the 1991 animated classic, I found myself enjoying it all as if I was watching it for the first time. The catchy songs are all here (I guarantee I will have Be Our Guest stuck in my head for a while). All of the talking household items come to life with great visual effects and top notch voice actors. The live action performances are very good as well, especially Kline who brings much of the humor to the screen.
After the first few releases, I was somewhat skeptical of these remakes. Too much CGI and actors hamming it up, in addition to the movies being chosen to be remade (Dumbo, really???), were making me nervous. Beauty and the Beast manages to find the perfect balance, so if all the upcoming movies in this genre are even half as good, I think they could work.
FINAL REVIEW: A-