This live action take on the classic Disney animated musical isn’t a shot for shot remake of the original like, say, Gus Van Sant’s time-wasting Psycho effort. However, it does follow a lot of the same plot points and incorporates enough of the musical numbers to give you that sense of déja vu while watching it.
Thankfully, Emma Watson makes it worthwhile. Hermione makes for a strong Belle. Since director Bill Condon retains the music from the original animated movie, Watson is asked to sing, and it’s pretty evident that Auto-Tune is her friend. She has a Kanye West thing going. As the Beast, Dan Stevens gives a decent enough performance through motion-capture.
The original intent was to have Stevens wearing prosthetics only, but he probably looked like Mr. Snuffleupagus in dailies, so they called upon the help of beloved computers. Like King Kong last week, the CGI creation blends in nicely with his totally human, organic cast member. The cast and crew labor to make musical numbers like “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest” pop with the creative energy of the animated version, but they don’t quite reach those heights. They are nicely rendered, for sure, but not on the masterpiece level that was the ’91 film. As for the romance between Belle and the Beast, it has a nice emotional payoff.
In a way, the movie is a sweet tribute to the animated movie, rather than being a movie that stands on its own.