We have our first really big hit of 2017! As it stands, 'Beauty and the Beast' holds the #6 spot on the All-Time Box Office Opening Weekend list, topping 'Iron Man 3', but not quite topping 'Civil War'. I have to say, I didn't truly expect it to hit so big. I knew it was gonna do well, but in the Top 10 of all time? Well, kudos, Disney. But how worth it is the film, REALLY? (Oh yeah, I'm going there)
Now, before I get lynched, let me make it clear that the original 'Beauty and the Beast' was always a film I found to be decent. It ultimately earned my respect for trying out newish CG technology to its advantage, and succeeding in such a way that even today, it's regarded as one of the greatest achievements in Disney animation (remember, this was a few years before 'Toy Story'). It was also the first animated film to ever be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The only other two that have ever made this category were 'Up' and 'Toy Story 3'. So anyway, the point is, even if it wasn't quite for me, I give it credit for being such a landmark.
In the vein of live action Disney remakes, it seems like a logical step to bring such a movie up. And they even got a true beauty to play Belle, Emma Watson. A clever move to not only put butts in seats, but bring her more out into the open in what is probably her first BIG role since she last played Hermione Granger. She does a pretty good job here, too, playing a truly likable character, and we even get to hear her sing... she ain't bad, either!
But here's where I run into my first problem of the film... the songs. Holy good God almighty, what the hell happened? They have pretty much all of the original songs going here, but they have even more than that. They pretty much made it into a musical. And I don't necessarily mind that, but I certainly didn't expect it. If I had fully know that it was gonna go full tilt musical on me, I would have given it a little more wiggle room. But 'Jungle Book' has two songs in it, one of which is just a casual almost drive-by song, and the other, which although unnecessary, was sung by Christopher Walken. This... this was almost a cut and paste job. But therein lies the problem.
To make SUCH a classic among the masses into a live action film, I get the feeling audiences would get pretty upset if they didn't get to hear their favorite songs, etc. In a way, it almost had to do the copy and paste to keep people happy. But don't get the wrong idea, there IS stuff to like about it, still. It, being a musical I didn't expect is hardly a fair reason to complain... but I'm still gonna complain about the AMOUNT of songs.
Anyway, to add to the positive side of things, the movie looked rather amazing. The visuals were really something to write home about, especially when they actually decided to go all out on the 'Be Our Guest' musical number. Hell, they even made the Beast look pretty spot on without making him look too goofy. Even the costume designs were lifted right out of the animated film. So visually, it gets solid marks. It was also acted well, and again for the fans of the original, all your old songs are here again.
I have to appreciate the fact that a bit more of the story focuses on Belle's father, and we do get to find out whatever happened to her mother... even if it is in a sort of crow barred-in scene, the way it's executed is rather touching. But it's otherwise not a hell of a lot more than you'd get from the original, animated movie. This brings me back to that Oscar nomination though. Because the original did so incredibly well for itself, really all this ends up being is a neat new way to see it. You'll pretty much just be watching the same story if you choose to stay home and watch the 1991 classic version.
But for those die-hard fans, either the title 'Beauty and the Beast' is gonna be the draw, or Emma Watson as Belle is gonna be the draw, and in neither case will you truly be disappointed. If you wanna just see a live action version of the animated movie, you will not be disappointed. But I gotta say, if you're looking for a new take on things, you might be disappointed.