Beauty and the Beast is a movie taken in with some care. I thought the movie worked because of the acting, music, set design and special effects. The funny thing is that those elements of Beauty and the Beast sometimes threaten to swallow the movie up. Ultimately (and thankfully), that doesn’t happen but I was holding my breath up until the ending.
The last time I saw the animation was when I was about five years old. So I don’t remember much of it. However, I did read about what the remake added from the original after seeing the movie. Sadly, the majority of what was added to the story doesn’t add to the overall quality of Beauty and The Beast, it was just there. What was perhaps the most important addition was the origin story of The Beast himself which is how the movie started.
The Music: The Hits and The Misses
Beauty and the Beast is a spectacle and it knows it. Every song in this movie is meant to express grandeur and splendor more than anything else. There are songs in which there is a large ensemble bellowing out tunes from the top of their lungs and the tips of their voices. The songs “Belle”, “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest” are times when it works and others like “The Mob Song” where it doesn’t.
The music ends up being essential to the movie and overall it does work. However, it’s music coupled with the special effects threaten to make the movie feel bloated and threatens the swallow up the story of the Beauty and the Beast. It doesn’t end up doing that, but I was afraid at times it would.
The Special Effects that Are so Special
I can imagine that the accountant responsible for creating the budget saw the line “Expenses: CGI- Spare no expense” and having a heart attack while the CEO said “Just trust me” as a validation. Beauty and the Beast commit to the special effects so much that judging the film goes hand-in-hand with it. It is abundant and it works.
The special effects are mostly colorful, believable and inventive. The best use of the special effects would go to the song “Be Our Guest”. Beauty and the Beast do manage (barely) to balance those special effects out. If every song was inundated like “Be Our Guest” was, I would have had to wash all those colors out of my eyeballs in a sink. Thankfully, Beauty and the Beast did not turn into “Alice Through The Looking Glass” from that perspective.
The weakness in the special effect department was Beast himself. Main it’s because of character movement and facial expressions looking mechanical and not natural. There are sequences where he looks stiff and other moments in the climax where he had the agility of someone a quarter of his size.
Overall there was enough entertainment value in Beauty and the Beast to recommend, the acting is good (Josh Gad as LeFou gets the best lines so I’d listen to what he says) and the production and set design is rich and detailed and the music mostly works (unless you are fan of quiet and subtle music). It’s not in the musical leagues of Sing Street or La La Land, but Beauty and the Beast undoubtedly works and is fun ***1/4