Review - Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast (2017), PG, 129 minutes - Until now, I had completely avoided Disney's live action remakes of their classic animated films.  However, with the release of the live action Beauty and the Beast, I felt that needed to change.  I have always enjoyed Disney animated films (in all honestly who doesn't?), and Beauty and the Beast was originally released right in the sweet spot of what I personally believe to be the best string of animated releases from Disney (along with The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Lion King).  The cast that was put together to bring this animated classic to life certainly didn't hurt either (Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, and Stanley Tucci).

Everyone's pretty familiar with the story of Beauty and the Beast, so I won't waste anyone's time rehashing that here.  What I can say though, is that I was pretty surprised (and pleased for that matter) that this live action adaptation was as faithful to the animated original as it was.  This may not differ from Disney's previous live action remakes, but having not seen any of them, I can't say.  Beauty and the Beast is adapted with a few minor changes here or there, but nothing that glaringly stands out which is nice.  The songs that my generation grew up with are all there, although I did notice that some verses were either trimmed or changed (for example, there is no singing about the swell cleft in Gaston's chin despite live action Gaston actually having a swell cleft in his chin).

Silly nit-picks aside, Emma Watson is a perfect fit for Belle, as is Luke Evans in the roll of Gaston.  Josh Gad's take on LeFou takes things a bit beyond best bud and sidekick, but is not even remotely offensive the way certain stories claimed prior to the film's release.  LeFou is still comedic relief, and honestly, I think I prefer this version to the bumbling oaf that was the animated original.  The makeup and CG work used to bring the Beast and the other inhabitants of his castle to life is also really well done.

I really enjoyed this new incarnation of Disney's classic.  I don't know that it will cause me to run out and rent any of their other live action adaptations, but it definitely puts my mind at ease for future live action releases of my favorite animated Disney films.  If you have ever enjoyed a Disney film, you'll enjoy this one as well.  It's great for all ages and is worthy of its predecessor.

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