The live action version of the tale as old as time has been on my watch list ever since news first broke of its creation. I mean, Emma Watson starring as Belle (totally fitting character for her to play), Josh Gad as LeFou, the anticipation of how Disney will make this version stand alone from the original, and one of the best animated classics of all time coming to life on screen…it’s almost too much! Considering Disney knocked it out of the park with its live action version of Cinderella in 2015 starring Lily James, the expectations for Beauty and the Beast are high, and surely ones that can be met. I am very sad to report, they didn’t meet them.
In the live action version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, a selfish prince (Dan Stevens) is cursed as a monster for all eternity unless he can learn to love another and earn their love in return, before the last petal falls on a rose he must protect. In a distant village, bookworm Belle (Watson) longs for more out of life. When her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) goes missing, Belle goes searching for him, stumbling upon a castle hidden within the woods. She discovers that her father has been imprisoned within the castle by the beast that inhabits it. She bargains her place as the beast’s prisoner for her father’s freedom, even though it means never seeing him again. As the days go by, Belle learns to look past the fur, claws, and sharp teeth, and befriends the beast. Will the beast be able to win Belle’s heart before the last petal falls? Or will he and all who inhabit the castle be confined to their conditions for the rest of their lives?
When Disney did its live action version of Cinderella, it went with entirely fresh ideas and an almost completely different story line. It was a remarkable feat considering it is such a beloved classic, and it worked. With Disney rolling out a new era of live action films, it is believed a new era of ideas and altered storylines would take hold. Unfortunately that is incorrect. Beauty and the Beast is basically a carbon copy of its animated counterpart, with whole lines being pulled straight from the animated version. Many of the original songs were still used, which is a given, with a few additional new ones sprinkled in, which was completely unnecessary.
While it was still impressive and exciting seeing this classic come to life on screen, it was just like watching the original. The only originality in the film went towards the new songs, and the fact that they made LeFou gay and crushing on Gaston to make it somewhat more modern and with the times. While it will make millions of dollars worldwide just for being a Disney film and being a remake of a well-known film, the film simply reeks of unoriginality. Also, while Emma Watson was an appropriate choice in playing Belle given her advocacy for women’s rights, you would think she’d have had better vocal training that wasn’t so reliant on auto tune.