[UPDATE: Read Screen Rant’s own Beauty and the Beast review now!]
There’s no doubt that Disney took a huge risk in remaking Beauty and the Beast. Bringing such a beloved movie back to the big screen in live-action format was always going to be a tricky task, and director Bill Condon certainly knows the original, animated version of Beauty and the Beast is a favorite movie of a lot of people.
The A-list cast includes Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson, to name but a few. The first reviews for Beauty and the Beast are now online, ahead of its worldwide opening in a couple of weeks. Below is a round up of some of the reviews published so far. The excerpts below are all spoiler free; just click on the links to read the reviews in full.
THR– Leslie Felperin
“Purists and prudes may bridle at the tinkering with basic elements here, which is sort of absurd given fairy tales are always changed and adapted by each new telling, but mostly these additions add welcome warmth and humanity. The film’s weakest link is the look of the digital characters. While the effects deployed to render the Beast and his various enchanted servants are marvels in terms of texture, especially as their digital fur, brass or ceramic surfaces react to the environment around them, the faces are too often stiff and lacking in expression.”
Collider– Matt Goldberg
“Luke Evans is shockingly good as Gaston, and he sinks his teeth into the character’s cartoonish villainy without looking like he’s doing an impression of the original cartoon. Gad is absolutely hilarious, and feels like the best translation of the animated version to live-action.”
“Unfortunately, despite the expense of the production, [Condon] misses the mark on what his romantic musical needs the most: romance and good musical numbers. He comes up short on Belle and Beast because it takes so long to get their romance, and when we get there, Beast still doesn’t look good.”
Variety– Owen Gleiberman
“The new Beauty and the Beast is a touching, eminently watchable, at times slightly awkward experience that justifies its existence yet never totally convinces you it’s a movie the world was waiting for.”
The Wrap– Dan Callahan
“Most problematic in this version is an attempt to make Gaston’s sidekick Le Fou (Josh Gad) into a gay character who is in love with his friend. This isn’t a bad idea on the face of it, but it seems like Condon and scriptwriters Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and Evan Spiliotopoulos (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) are trying to hedge their bets on this issue, and the result is coy and unconvincing.”
EW– Chris Nashawaty
“Beauty and the Beast is a movie that can’t quite figure out what it wants to say that it didn’t already say back in 1991. It’s fine and funny and sweet and lush and some of the songs are infectious, but I still don’t completely understand why it exists — and why they couldn’t do more with it.”
To surmise, then, it’s nigh on impossible to improve upon perfection, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Disney shouldn’t have bothered. As was widely expected, the CGI elements of Beauty and the Beast sit well with some but jar for others, and it does seem as though the servants in particular take some getting used to. Watson, Evans, Stevens, and Gad’s performances have all divided critics, receiving high praise from some and scathing reviews from others.
As for the recent revelation regarding LeFou being Disney’s first openly gay character in the movie; it seems as though, sadly, it’s nothing more than a token gesture that’s there for the sake of it, which is a real shame. Still, there is a moment, which we won’t spoil, that is refreshing to see on screen in what is essentially a family movie, at least. Chances are, though, that his sexuality will be of little to no consequence to younger viewers, who will be far more wrapped up in the story being told on screen.
Sources: Various (see above)