Now showing: Beauty and the Beast

Amy Miyahara, Asst. A&E Editor

After the success of “Maleficent,” “Cinderella” and “The Jungle Book,” Disney decided to continue its trend of live-action remakes of animated films with their latest installment, “Beauty and the Beast.”  The movie is visually stunning and entertaining, but, overall, underwhelming compared to its animated counterpart.

While “Maleficent” told the tale of “Sleeping Beauty” from a unique perspective, “Beauty and the Beast” remains almost entirely loyal to the plot of the 1991 film. After an enchantress turns a young prince into a beast (Dan Stevens), he faces a limited amount of time to break the curse, lest he want to remain a beast forever.

Meanwhile, Belle (Emma Watson), wants to escape her provincial village life and the affections of self-absorbed Gaston (Luke Evans). When her father (Kevin Klein) is taken prisoner in the Beast’s castle, Belle volunteers to take his place. As Belle gradually warms to the Beast, an unlikely romance grows, one based not on looks but on character and intellect.

The film adds a few story elements not present in the original film, including backstories on Belle’s mother and on the Beast’s family. These elements are sentimental and add emotional depth to the characters, but they are not crucial to plot.

The actors casted in the film are all convincing in their respective roles. Watson, best known for playing bookworm Hermione in the “Harry Potter” films, easily transforms into the bookworm Belle. As the Prince, Stevens is hidden beneath the Beast for the majority of the film, although he voices the character with conviction. However, while Evans looks the part of Gaston, he doesn’t seem arrogant enough to match the vibe that Gaston gives in the original film.

The film is gorgeously photographed.  Breathtaking shots of the castle, beautiful ballroom scenes and exquisite costume design made every frame a masterpiece. The animation on the enchanted household items, such as Cogsworth, Lumiere and Mrs. Potts, allowed them to keep their original charm without looking cartoonish.

The music is decent but paled in comparison to the original film. Watson’s voice, while charming, didn’t display the finesse of Paige O’hara’s voice in the original film. The film remade all of the songs that the animated movie incorporated, but none are as memorable as the originals.

The film also includes three original songs. The best of these is “Days in the Sun,” which beautifully expresses the desires of the characters to return to youthful, happier times. “Evermore” showcased Stevens’s vocal skills and gave insight on the Beast’s emotional struggle when letting Belle leave the castle. “How Does a Moment Last Forever?” beautifully expresses the cliche theme of love being immortal, but possesses forgettable lyrics and music.

“Beauty and the Beast” is definitely a pleasant movie. However, it attempted to emulate the classic charm of the 1991 film, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so.