I know, I know I’m several weeks late – but as someone who grew up with the classic, who has eaten in Be Our Guest and adores the Hollywood Studios show I really would like to get my oar in, albeit a little late.
As a 22 year old the original Beauty and the Beast (1991) was a classic even before I was born. As a little girl I watched it and made my Mum fast forward the scary parts and even as a 22 year old I spent my holiday in Florida last June rewatching the film in the evenings.
I was really sceptical when they announced this film was coming out. It could be a Malificent which was quite frankly brilliant, or it could be a Cinderella which was such an awful remake it’s never really been mentioned again. And then came the hype, they opened a restaurant in Magic Kingdom that gets booked up 180 days in advance and when I was there in February every merchandise shop had that terrifying Emma Watson doll. This film had so much to live up to.
And it’s probably unfair that I had such high expectations, it was never going to be as good as the original. To start with the good things – the story is still beautiful and Mrs Potts as lovely as ever. Gaston was phenomenal, they could not have found a better match for the part. The songs are as good as ever and I was singing along all the way through. The costumes were stunning and the way they did the beast was brilliant.
I think Emma Watson is really only good at acting characters who are the same as her (kind of like Hugh Grant) which made her a Hermione I adored, but not such a good Belle. Her singing wasn’t unpleasant but certainly wasn’t outstanding and we felt they’d cast entirely mediocre singers around her so she didn’t stand out like a sore thumb.
We did get more of the back story of the characters, for instance finding out what happened to Belle’s mother but I’m not sure this warranted the film being an extra 40 minutes in length. It felt like the exact same story just dragged out and I found myself checking my phone and deciding to plait my hair, which aren’t signs of a film that’s holding my attention.
If you’re going to make a film that’s exactly the same storyline as a classic you have to make it better, better actors and actresses, better singing. If you’re going to add time into it, that time has to be worthwhile, not just make it longer because you think you should. If this was the first ever Beauty & the Beast film, the first time we’d seen the story brought to the screen I’d be raving about it, but unfortunately I think it’s taken them 26 years to make it worse. Overall it wasn’t terrible. I’d watch it again but I’d always choose to watch the original instead.