Beauty and the BeastBeauty and the Beast
Year: 2017
Rating: PG
Length: 129 minutes / 2.15 hours

When it comes to the Disney live-action remakes, there are a few things to consider. While some plots are drastically different from their originals, like in Maleficent (2014), others gained plots that were light or non-existent, like in The Jungle Book (2016). When it comes to adapting Beauty and the Beast (1991), the fact that it received a nomination for the Best Picture Oscar speaks volumes of the story that already existed. Consequently, little has changed with the general thrust of the live-action remake, but it added many details that helped to round out the plot.

Not only was Belle’s (Emma Watson) past explained a little better, but the turning point in her relationship with Beast (Dan Stevens) was much more natural than it was in its predecessor. I will also admit that the ending, while still the same outcome, carried a much larger emotional impact (something closer to that of Tangled (2010)). Furthermore, the visuals in this version were quite stunning, especially in the musical numbers (most notably on “Be Our Guest”). CGI certainly has come a long way in 16 years. Instead of appearing anthropomorphized, each of the house servants could easily be mistaken for the furniture and accouterments found in such a castle.

While all of these improvements made for a fantastic, nostalgic film, I couldn’t help but think that it’s nothing new. The original 1946 French version (of which there was a brief cameo in the “hand-held” torches at the castle) was groundbreaking in its practical special effects. Similarly, the 1991 animated film was one of the first to integrate 2-D and 3-D animation. So, what did the 2017 version have? As far as I can tell, the only “new” element was that of a slightly ambiguous homosexual character that you’d probably miss if there wasn’t a huge controversy surrounding it.

A visually-stunning update to a tried-and-true story, I give Beauty and the Beast 4.0 stars out of 5.

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