Beauty and the Beast: 'Less Magical' but Entertaining

Disney's live-action remake is in theaters
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2017 10:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – Disney's original Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. In other words, its live-action remake starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens has a tough act to follow. According to critics, it's good—but doesn't quite measure up to the original. The general reaction:

  • "If you thought it was a bad idea to mess with a classic, Beauty and the Beast will persuade you that a tale as old as time is worth retelling," writes Calvin Wilson at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. While it's "not quite as good as its predecessor," it's still "a vastly entertaining film that combines old-school charm with technological wizardry," he adds, giving props to both Watson and Stevens.
  • Colin Covert agrees this retelling is "less magical" than the 1991 original, "an underperforming example of more being considerably less," he writes at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. But he also finds much to enjoy, from "the subplot of egotistical Gaston" to the impressive detail in the computer imagery. In short, "it is a visually sumptuous, highly watchable extravaganza."

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  • Sara Stewart actually thinks this new version is better than the original, partly because the Beast is "more engaging." But the film as a whole "has something for everyone," she writes at the New York Post. "If you want your old favorite dressed in sumptuous new clothes, that's what you'll get. Those who always desired a little more depth from Beauty and the Beast will be happy, too."
  • One who was not happy: Joe Morgenstern. He argues the film "betrays the essence of what made the 1991 animated feature a beloved classic" through "a succession of disjunctures, missed moments and dubious deviations from the earlier script." It feels "crazily cluttered" and Watson's Belle is bland to boot, he writes at the Wall Street Journal. He does, however, praise the "huge jolts of visual energy."
The film features Disney's first "exclusively gay moment," even if the reference is subtle. (Read more movie review stories.)

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