A Tale as Old as Time, Told Once Again

“Beauty and the Beast” adds to Disney’s Live Action Remake Franchise


Derek Walker

I would tell you spoiler warning, but the film is pretty much the same as Disney’s 1991 animated movie. If you haven’t seen that, it’s your fault, not mine.


The 2017 remake of “Beauty and the Beast” is another addition to Disney’s live-action-remakes-of-old-Disney-films. It’s a part of a growing list along with “Maleficent(2014), “Cinderella” (2015), and more recently “The Jungle Book” (2016).

“Beauty and the Beast” was fine as far as movies go, but it left no sort of impression. It felt like a rote, by-the-numbers retelling of the 1991 animated movie. Most of the performances were dramatically over the top (which is to be expected in a musical movie). In terms of humor, there was enough comedy to make the film light-hearted, but it didn’t do much to make me laugh out loud. Keep in mind that I am speaking as someone who’s seen Decatur’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” enough times where I was singing along with the movie, so the cinematic experience may have been spoiled for me.

After re-watching the original Beauty and the Beast, I received a new appreciation for the animated enchanted objects. Though making them look realistic is a sleek way to “modernize” the film, you can connect more with cartoony, anthropomorphic characters. (Photo courtesy: Flickr.com)

The best thing the movie did is fix some of the glaring plot holes in the story. For example: “What do the beast and Belle have in common enough to make them fall in love?” In the 1991 movie, we just see a montage of them doing stuff. The beast doesn’t even share Belle’s love of books, so I just marked up their romance to Stockholm’s Syndrome. In the 2017 edition, the beast is an intelligent, articulate lover of Shakespeare. He provides a stark contrast to the close-mindedness of Belle’s village. Their love was more believable.

Of course, some of these fixes seemed hastily tacked on. For example, “How does the village forget they have a monarch?” “Oh yeah,the Enchantress’ spell also wiped the memory of the villagers!” (That’s only a slight paraphrase to the line in the movie). Also, it addresses plot points that we didn’t even ask for or care about like “Where is Belle’s mother?” Not only does the movie answer the question, it even goes as far as to make a random mini B story about it, complete with an enchanted time travelling, transporting book thingy. (I’m not making this up.) I appreciate the effort it takes to clean up and add to the story, but points like this one make it seem only halfway done.

It is difficult to make old material seem fresh and “Beauty and the Beast” doesn’t quite succeed. The only way I can think of making the movie more interesting is to surprise the audience with a tragic ending. They had all of the pieces to do so. The beast was dead, the enchanted objects became objects, and Belle’s  timing of “I love you” may have come after the last petal on the rose fell. Instead, the enchantress waltzed in and magicked everything good again. It was a cop out ending that significantly hurt the stakes in the film.

All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone who is hesitant about seeing it. However, I would say that the 2017 version was better at hitting the thematic concepts of inner beauty and outer appearance. I think “Beauty and the Beast” did exactly what it set out to do: retell the “Beauty and the Beast” story for a modern generation and make a killing at the box office in the process.

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