Beauty and the Beast has come full circle with Disney and returns to the big screen Friday March 17th with this live action version. The film tells the tale as old as time and returns all of our favorite characters, songs, and scenes from the animated film then builds upon it for this new iteration.
This version of Beauty and the Beast follows the mold of the 2015 remake of Cinderella and goes beyond to hold even more true to the animated version. As with previous live action re-tellings this one explores the characters backstories a little more and adds some more depth to some of the characters. For example both Belle’s and the Beast’s family histories and stories of what happened to their mothers are brought up. LeFou is still Gaston’s loyal sidekick but he does question his companion’s actions more than the other versions.
Four new songs were added to the film. The Beast has a new ballad “Evermore” which is sung after he releases Belle to save her father. “Day in the Sun” is performed by the enchanted objects in the castle as they remember the old days before the spell. And Maurice has “How Does A Moment Last Forever” about holding onto life’s precious moments. “Aria” rounds out the new additions. The decision was made not to include the Broadway additions since those were intended for stage and structure of the play not the silver screen, so you will not be hearing “No Matter What”, “Human Again, Home”, or “If I Can’t Love Her”. Several of the original songs were modified slightly with revised lyrics, some actually using unused lyrics from the original animated version.
The level of detail in the sets comes through as the characters move around these massive environments in period costumes. One of the most impressive and memorable scenes in the animated film was the ballroom scene. The grandeur of the set and camera movements stick in your mind. I thought this version fell short of that. You kept thinking the camera was going to swing or something would happen and it would cut and feel awkward. It is still an ok scene and the ballroom is impressive (plus it is used for two other dancing scenes and plays a more integral role in the film) but it came up short of the original’s impact for me.
I cannot comment on the value of 3D over 2D beyond saying I saw this screening in 2D and it looked good. The preview at Disneyland is 3D and it added a little more depth but did not substantially alter the feeling of the scene to me.
A warning to parents, depending on your child the wolf chase scenes, the final battle and a couple with the Beast are a bit intense (and loud). Also note the film has a running time of over two hours.
All in all I found the film entertaining and enjoyable. You could sit back, relax, and enjoy the music and a story that you know with a couple minor tweaks. The film met my expectations and I thought it was well done. If you are a fan of the original or the Broadway show you will find plenty of positives in this version. If you are looking for something that tells the tale in a different way or explores a completely different path you may be disappointed.