From the moment the opening credits begin, showing the traditional princess castle that opens every Disney film, the viewer gets a sense of a serious attention to detail as the Disney magic unfolds.
The film is at its best when it sticks to the original story, although some additions to the plot line are useful in filling in gaps where the original left things unanswered. It really provokes a sense of nostalgia, something that is key to the success of this genre.
As soon as the opening sequence with the chilling musical score that opens the original film begins, the audience is taken back to being a small child watching the 1991 classic on a VHS tape. There are some additional musical numbers which are arguably a flop. It wasn’t that viewers will be opposed to new music but the songs aren’t particularly great and feel like an unnecessary afterthought that are added to lengthen the running time.
The animation is impressive from a technical point of view and really demonstrate the capabilities of modern filmmaking. That said, there is a charm that is lost in trying to personify household objects yet still keep them looking realistic.
The film loses an element of its appeal as its animators clearly do not have the same resources they would have when creating it in a traditional animation style. There is no blushing of the cheeks, and the eyes and faces are less expressive, which renders the characters a little less loveable.
In terms of the acting, most of the cast were exceptional but some shine more than others. Luke Evans and Josh Gad (Gaston and his side kick LeFou respectively) are particularly good, especially in the musical numbers, and Dan Stevens succeeds in portraying a beast that evokes sympathy in an audience.
Emma Watson’s Belle is true to the original.
However, although she is believable, clearly someone in the audio mixing room felt her vocals weren’t up to scratch as there is an overwhelming sound of autotuning accompanying her singing parts. As for the rest of the cast, Cogsworth, Lumiere and Mrs Potts (played by British film royalty Ian McKellan, Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson) who are predictably outstanding in their respective roles.
Overall, Beauty and the Beast is successful in its aim, a new attempt for Disney to profit from an old favourite. It draws on a sense of nostalgia within its audience and a desire to revisit the traditional story in a new way. Definitely rewatchable, but not a patch on the original.