Beauty and the Beast is the latest live-action adaptation from Disney as they take their catalogue of animation classics and give them an update for the 21st century.
The story follows a bright, beautiful young woman named Belle, who is taken prisoner by a beast in a castle. But as she begins to befriend the castle’s enchanted staff, she learns to look beyond the beast’s hideous exterior, and recognize the kind heart and soul of a true prince.
Aside from its distinctive songs and its classic story, there’s a lot of similarities here with Disney’s 2015 Cinderella, another live-action adaptation of a Disney animated classic. Much of its production design has similarities, along with its costumes, tone and style. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – distinguishing itself in it’s own right rather than seeming like a carbon copy of that movie’s style.
Director Bill Condon does a strong job of updating the animated classic, developing the characters and adding a few new jingles to offer something fresh.
For those too young to remember the original the film is a great way to bring the classic tale to a whole new generation. There are no doubt kids who will love the film just as much as us adults did back in 1991.
However, The original Beauty and the Beast had a great magical feel to it, and taking it away from its animated roots somewhat dilutes the magic and subverts some of its rather more important comic moments.
Time and familiarity mean the songs don’t feel nearly as special as they did in 1991 and the performances are rather dry with critical emotional scenes feeling weak.
But nonetheless there’s plenty to enjoy here. Kids will love it, adults will admire it and an all-time classic tale will be introduced to a whole new generation.