Beauty and the Beast: Disney’s crown jewel creates live-action magic

By IAN LACK Reporter

Editor’s Note: The grading system used here is similar to the 10-point scale used in SDSU courses.

 

GRADE: A-

 

There’s a feeling of nostalgia for most millennials whenever we re-watch an animated Disney classic.

The feeling is spurred from childhood memories, like sliding a VHS cassette into a VCR and rewinding to the beginning of a ‘90s Disney flick.

Like many of our generation, I was raised on the animated “Beauty and the Beast.” Being able to head to a local cinema now and purchase a ticket with that title written on it was priceless.

However, as someone who wants to see a live-action adaptation that is as well-done as the animated original, I have to hold this film to the high standard set by the animated version. That being said, I’m happy to see this film soar to a level close to the original.

The 2017 version of “Beauty and the Beast” plays it very safe, taking a lot of dialogue and animation from the original film. However, I would argue the simple feat of adapting the story to a live-action format with the visuals and performances it offers is enough to constitute admiration for this film.

The story that unfolds in this version of the 1991 classic is a near copy-and-paste job with some very slight tweaks that are best discovered while watching the film. Some of the pacing of the film does feel a bit rushed at times to allow for those extra elements that are added to the film, but, overall, the story glides from scene to scene like a well-rehearsed ballroom dance.

The real heart of this film is easily Emma Watson’s endearing performance as Belle. In interviews promoting the film, Watson said she joined the film’s cast with the expectation that this would be a more independent, well-detailed version of the character.

Watson was correct in that expectation. Belle, in this version, is a noticeably more developed character and can be credited toward Watson.

The rest of the cast provides an exceptional crowd for the romance that unfolds between Belle and the Beast (Dan Stevens), whose appearance on screen deserves some serious accolades directed toward the special effects team.

In the coverage leading up to the release of this film, much has also been made of the gay presence of Le Fou (Josh Gad), the friend/henchman of Gaston (Luke Evans). Russia and several other countries set age restrictions on the film, and a theater in Alabama even barred it from showing because of this aspect.

The “exclusively gay moment” that director Bill Condon spoke of happens in the blink of an eye, but is handled with respect toward the gay community and marks a notable milestone for LGBT+ representation in mainstream film.

Another aspect of the film that deserves attention is the musical numbers performed throughout. Each number is highlighted, not only by the cast, but by the film’s exceptional cinematography and choreography — notably the “Be Our Guest” number.

Is this film as perfect as the original? It’s debatable. But, in all, if you’re looking to re-experience the magic of the “tale as old as time,” this live-action adaptation will remind you of Disney’s charm.

 

Ian Lack is a reporter at The Collegian and can be reached at [email protected]