I was definitely on the hype wagon for Disney’s new live-action Beauty and the Beast film. Just the trailer was enough to give me chills. Max and I knew we’d be splurging and seeing it in theaters (we’ve been picky about the movies we see in theaters these days since it costs almost $30 for the both of us to see a MATINEE. No concessions included) and when my aunt got us movie passes for Max’s birthday we knew we’d been saving them for Beauty and the Beast. Since we were busy with social events on opening weekend, we went to see it during its second weekend in theaters, after hearing from friends and coworkers that it was incredible.
Well, it looks like we’re THOSE PEOPLE who are going to be the black sheep regarding this movie. While we both enjoyed seeing it (as we enjoy seeing ANY Disney movie) we both felt rather let down in a multitude of ways, which we found surprising after loving the last Disney movie we saw in theaters so much (Moana, in case you were wondering). Beauty and the Beast is one of Max’s favorite Disney movies and Belle is his favorite princess, and I recently fell in love with the animated film as well (I’d always been more partial to Snow White and The Little Mermaid growing up, but after watching the animated version of Beauty & the Beast in theaters a few years ago when they re-released it, I fell in love with it. Plus, all book bloggers have a bit of Belle in them). After discussing the movie for the rest of the night, we decided that it fell in a very middle-of-the-road place for us. If we were rating it the way we’d rate a book, we’d probably rate it 3.5 stars. There were elements from the original animated movie that we loved to see come to life in this version, but there were also elements that weren’t captured as well or that fell flat in the live action remake for us.
*Warning- There may be some mild spoilers below, but as long as you’ve seen the original there’s not much you can really be spoiled about…
Things We Loved:
- The music! We loved seeing them recreate the songs (“Be Our Guest” was particularly stunning).
- The household staff characters! Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, etc. were all phenomenal and HILARIOUS.
- The battle scene where the peasants storm the castle. SO funny and SO cool to see the household staff take on the mob while still in their intimate object form.
- The Beast’s Library. Obviously this was a scene that everyone was anticipating since it’s SUCH an iconic scene from the animated film, and I did find myself getting ~feels~ while watching this part.
- Gaston. The actor did SUCH a good job capturing his troll-ish essence. It literally felt like he walked right off the animated screen.
- Maurice. In the remake, Maurice is an artist while Belle is the one who likes to invent. Their bond was very sweet and I loved learning more about his relationship with Belle, as his character definitely had more depth than being the bumbling and sort of pathetic character he is in the animated film.
- More context and character development given to the story. They fleshed out the backstory quite a bit more many of the characters (especially Maurice, Belle, and the Beast) and it was really interesting to see the directions the film took. It’ll be interested to see if these enhanced backstories will be considered “canon” or not.
Things We Were Less-Than-Impressed With:
- Emma Watson. I really like Emma Watson, don’t get me wrong. She definitely has that bookish, inventive side that Belle has. However, I felt that she was actually a little low-energy, when Belle is more spirited and sassy in the animated version (especially in the opening song where she’s dancing around the fountain, sliding around on the bookstore ladder looking for books, etc.) She was just sort of missing that spark of life that Belle has. It felt like watching Hermione in a peasant village singing Disney songs. I didn’t see her as being transformed by the role into the character.
- The Pacing. This movie felt sooooooo long. I was actually starting to get really ancy by the end of it. It felt like the initial set up with the Beast (with Maurice going to the castle to seek shelter, being taken prisoner, Belle finding him, trading places with him, Maurice going back to the village, etc.) really dragged, and then the actual time where the Beast & Belle spent time together and fell in love felt really rushed in comparison. As Max said “It feels like they fell in love over a long weekend.”
- The “extra” songs. There are several songs in the live action film that were not from the original movie (such as the Beast getting his own song and sing and be melodramatic over) and I honestly just wasn’t interested. People are here for the original songs, not for new ones.
- It paled in comparison to the original. I kept thinking back to how I preferred this scene or that scene to the animated version, and it honestly felt so similar to the original animated movie in so many ways that it was almost competing with it. You can’t watch it and see it as it’s own thing, you know?
I generally don’t mind Disney’s live action remakes because it’s so cool to see their animated classics come to life. It’s a fresh and vibrant way of getting to experience them again, as well as getting to bring the stories to a new generation. However, I simply wasn’t blown away by Beauty and the Beast, which was surprising since their trailers were so good, and it’s such a popular Disney story. Perhaps in this instance, the animated version is just too good for a live action remake to compete with, especially since it’s from Disney’s 90’s glory days where so many iconic films were made, and it’s hard to compete with that golden age. I think I’ll stick with the special edition of the animated classic we recently picked up instead of adding the live action to my shelves. While I’m glad I saw it and recommend that any diehard Disney fan does, you’re not exactly missing anything if you skip it. Now to wait to see how the live action of Mulan pans out!
P.S. Watching Beauty and the Beast was the perfect compliment to the A Court of Thorns and Roses reread that Kristen, Alexa and I are hosting this month! I just finished rereading ACOTAR and loved picking up on all of the parallels since it is a Beauty and the Beast retelling!
My sister has been bugging me to take her to this but I just haven’t had that excitement about it yet! I have fairly low expectations compared to everyone else. I haven’t seen most of the live action remakes (I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen The Jungle Book) and apparently haven’t made it a priority haha.
I definitely fell victim to they hype on this one, especially since the trailers were soooooo good! I’m glad I saw it but I wish we hadn’t spent $30 seeing it…
I felt the same! I liked it and I loved seeing certain scenes come to life, but it just fell short for me. I love Emma and the guy who played The Beast, but their acting fell a bit short for me. Which is such a shame because I love the animated Beauty and the Beast. I love Emma but I don’t think she was the right fit for Belle.
Yes, exactly! I really love Emma but she’s never seemed like the right fit for Belle for me! I actually wish too that they had made her hair darker for the role because Belle has dark brown hair and anything to alter Emma’s appearance may have made it a little easier to disassociate her from her “Hermione” persona.
Aw I’m sorry you didn’t love the remake as much as the original. I had the opposite opinion and loved nearly everything! Perhaps it’s because it’s been, quite literally, 13 years since I’ve last seen the animated Beauty and the Beast so I didn’t remember much about the original life and characters. So for me, I found that everything was absolutely entrancing 🙂 In any case, it’s good that it didn’t fall completely flat for you. Lovely review, Cristina!
Thank you, Laura! I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the movie a lot! Do you think you’ll watch the animated version sometime soon to compare the two?
I definitely am going to try to! After hearing so much about the differences between the two, I’m curious 🙂
I loved the feel this movie gives, but there are something I didn’t like either. I can’t shake the image of Hermione from Emma, and even though she has this intellegent and graceful aura, her facial expression seemed too much at times. I also feel the ballroom scene paled in comparison to the animated one. Nothing can beat those starlit-ballroom-through-the-grand-windows background, no matter how many candles they CGI-ed!
YES I really wasn’t blown away by the ballroom scene either! Honestly I felt like the whole castle was WAY too CGI-ed! I get that they can create cool special effects that way but it felt so FAKE to me!
Your review is the EXACT reason I’ve avoided going to see this. Everything you disliked are my fears for what I will also dislike. I’ve seen so many rave reviews for this, but the clips I’ve seen of Emma Watson singing just haven’t done it for me! It might be a movie I wait to watch until it’s out of theatre, let the hype die down a bit haha
Right? I just wish she had been more dynamic! My expectations for this were definitely super high so that didn’t help a lot either (I usually am more careful about hype but I LOVE the animated version so much I let myself get sucked in!)
Great review, very thoughtful! I actually liked it more than I expected to because I went in with pretty low expectations. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite animated movie but I was really wary of Emma Watson’s voice and I wasn’t as excited as I expected to be. That being said, I teared up during the first song because I had such a rush of nostalgia for the original! I do agree with a lot of your points; it felt long, I didn’t love the added songs, and Emma Watson could have been stronger but I kept thinking about the movie more and more afterwards. I like that they easily cleared up some plot holes (the age of the prince, why the villagers didn’t remember the castle) and liked the added backstory for Beast and Gaston as well. My husband and I are huge Disney fans too, we’ll see anything and everything Disney 🙂 I think I still prefer the live action Cinderella over this but I enjoyed most of it. The animated is still the best!
I did find myself getting a little misty eyed during some of the songs too because it’s so cool and dredges up so much nostalgia to see those musical sequences come to life when they were such a big part of our childhood! The extra content that cleared up the plotholes was a great addition to the life-action version, I just wish that Emma Watson had a more dynamic portrayal of Belle! I haven’t seen the live action Cinderella yet, but I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it! (I’ve heard mixed things about it!)
I want to see this movie– but honestly the hype has made me less excited. I hate bandwagon stuff and it feels like everyone is all about this because it’s “cool” or something. Blah. Also, while I LOVE the music from the original, I’ve never been a big fan of the story. I just don’t like storylines where the prisoner falls in love with her captor. But I am interested in seeing this when it comes out on DVD for sure!
Yes, it would be great to check out on DVD, but I wouldn’t pay $14 again to see it in theaters! I totally get what you mean about the theme of the story not being your thing, I took a class that focused on critically analyzing Disney in college and we definitely looked at the problematic elements in the story (Stockholm Syndrom, abuse, etc.) I still love the music as well though!
In my opinion, Gaston STOLE the show!! 😀
He really was fabulous!!!
I’m glad it didn’t completely disappoint you, and I can totally see what you mean about the pacing. I’m one of those who absolutely loved the movie, though maybe a big part of that was I went in only expecting to be nostalgic. For me, it was never going to be better than the original, and I was fine with that. Though Luke Evans as Gaston is hands-down the best part of this movie, and I like/fear him more than I did the cartoon version! I also like that they showed Belle and the Beast actually have things in common, and she didn’t just fall in love with him because he was nice to her. I’m keeping my fingers creased for Mulan – I’d be so angry if they ruin that!
YES Gaston was phenomenal!! I’m REALLY nervous about Mulan though- I think it has the potential to either be great or a disaster!
I watch the animated Beauty and the Beast in my classroom every year, so it will be interesting to see if I share your sentiments. I love the animated so much, especially the prologue, the transformation scene, and the end credits. I always watch the credits to the very end where they dedicate the movie to Howard Ashman who gave “a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul” and I always get teary eyed.
That’s so sad! I don’t know if I’ve ever watched the movie to the end credits!