Diversity is the main component that you take away from the new live action remake of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. After 26 years since the original Disney animated version was released, the reformation of one of Disney’s most beloved creations has certainly been brought into the 21st century. But like its fellow recent live action remakes, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ fails to live up to its animated predecessor.
Emma Watson plays Belle, an outcast of her village for not being a typical girl but instead she enjoys reading and has a keen eye for a new invention – a fresh trait of the character and the first indication of diversity in the movie.
When her father, Maurice (Kevin Kline), is captured on his travels and locked away by the Beast in his castle, Belle seeks to rescue him, only to take his place in the prison. Once a handsome prince, the Beast is seeking true love to overturn a spell cast on him by an enchantress for his selfish ways as well as a number of household appliances who were once bubbly human beings.
There’s no doubting the image of the film is captivating. The CGI is done magnificently and as a result, there’s a beautiful artificial look to the movie. On top of that, there are moments throughout that allude back to the original animation, whether it’s the score in the background or just something as simple as a subtle facial expression from the Beast.
The problem with the movie, and it was the same with the similar remake of Jungle Book, is that the original animated version of the movie will never be outdone or emulate just how much they were loved by audiences of all ages. Of course, a lot changes in 26 years, and there’s no disputing that creating an updated version to match today’s social approaches is a positive factor. Most notable is Josh Gad’s Le Fou, sidekick of Luke Evans’ Gaston, who has caused much of a stir for appearing to be gay, although very subtly indeed and completely blown out of proportion on a political level. The changing portrayal of a Disney princess is perhaps more important as there seems to be a lot more to Belle than just a bog standard girl with typical female attributes – she certainly has a lot more to offer on a humanitarian level this time around. Two interracial couples that are revealed towards the end of the movie are also offering an insight into the movie’s diverse awareness.
Other positive aspects of the movie are the performances with Emma Watson putting in a solid performance as Belle and a number of pleasing cameos from the likes of Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci. Arguably the best performance of the bunch however is Evans’ portrayal of Gaston – strong and confident, with an edge of humour about him, whilst also carrying a dark atmosphere at times. They all also perform exceedingly well during the much-loved musical numbers, which are beautifully depicted.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ is an enjoyable watch and has many promising elements to it, but it is always performing in the shadow of its original, which has become so iconic for a generation. Referring again to ‘The Jungle Book’ and also to Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Cinderella’, they were never going to out-do their predecessors so it almost begs the question as to why make them as you come out of the movie just wanting to watch the original.