By Maria Lubanovic, Staff Writer
[Walt Disney Pictures; 2017]
After 26 years since the animated version of Beauty and the Beast hit the big screen, children and adults have returned to the theaters to fawn over the live-action remake starring Emma Watson. Even though most of the film is a shot to shot recreation of the original, it still somehow brings something new and fresh to an age-old masterpiece.
The casting is almost perfect. Emma Watson plays the part of Belle well, but it’s almost impossible not to wish that Paige O’Hara’s singing voice was coming out of Watson’s mouth. It’s digitized in a way that takes away from the sincerity and reality that the movie tries to create. This is especially evident in sections where she sings with other people, like “Belle” and “Something There,” as they are not auto-tuned as drastically. The supporting cast also saves the day when it comes to casting. Everyone from Gaston to the Wardrobe brings something different and special to the table. Even voices that seemed irreplaceable, like Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts, are somehow filled closely without becoming an impression.
As always, the music makes the movie. “Gaston” is new and exciting with a choreographed sword fight scene and additional new lyrics. “Be Our Guest” is just as flashy and fun as the original. The excitement is there, and as always, the performance value of seeing food flying around and napkins dancing while being serenaded by a candlestick is pure Disney magic. The songs added to this version are beautiful and soulful, especially when the Beast is singing on top of the castle about his despair. The sets are beautiful and the lighting makes the contrast between the castle and the village even more evident. The village is especially impressive; The castle, as Belle enters, becomes cleaner and more opulent, which is highlighted after the spell is broken. Sometimes it gets to a point when the movie relies on size and gilt.
The biggest problem with this remake is the ballroom dance scene. In the animated movie, the dancing animation is flawless, and Belle’s dress moves in a way that matched it. The animation made the ballroom feel both intimate and full at the same time, something the live action version failed to capture. Belle’s entrance in the live action film lacks the same surprise moment of her entering the ballroom wearing her ball gown for the first time. The live action version featured a slightly Cinderella-esque transformation that adds gold to the dress, destroying the big reveal moment to both the Beast and the audience. The yellow Belle dress is a classic; It’s the outfit that every weird little princess-loving brunette kid wanted to wear on Halloween and every other occasion that is appropriate. The live action version of the dress was underwhelming and was the only true costuming flaw in the whole movie. It didn’t move with the dancing as well as it should have, and it misses the fullness and 18th-century style that the rest of the women’s costumes have in the rest of the film.
To be fair, it’s ridiculously difficult to recreate such a classic that didn’t really need a live action remake anyway. How could it ever truly measure up to the timelessness of the animated version? That doesn’t mean we won’t see it, reminisce about our childhoods and then cry when the movie ends.