“Remake” is such a dirty word these days, but remaking a film isn’t inherently evil. There’s actually an art to it. On the one hand, you can’t stray too far from a story everyone loves. But at the same time, as artists, you don’t want to just rehash somebody else’s work. It’s a fine line, but Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast live-action remake walks it fairly well.
This film follows the same plot structure as the 1991 version, and features most of the same songs. It admittedly lacks some of the fun and charm of its predecessor, but if you liked the original work, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this one.
What truly makes this remake worth watching is what it adds to the tale as old as time. The script manages to answer questions that fans have been asking for almost three decades. Like, why does no one in the village remember the prince that lives 10 minutes away? Or why is there a thriving bookstore in a town where no one reads? It may seem small, but filling in these plot holes does make the story more satisfying as a whole.
The best addition, however, is what’s added to the character of LeFou. He’s no longer just Gaston’s annoying sidekick. He’s now a character with actual depth, and an actual arc. The audience will actually find themselves getting invested in his story, instead of just brushing him off as a pest. The film as a whole doesn’t beat out the original Beauty and the Beast, but it at least does in its portrayal of this one side player.
Unfortunately, even with the vast improvement to LeFou, there doesn’t seem to be a standout character or performance in this movie. That’s not to say that the acting is bad; it’s fine. There’s just nothing worth praising. Last year’s Jungle Book remake was no masterpiece, but at least Idris Elba gave fans a brilliant Shere Khan that was worth talking about. Beauty and the Beast is missing that element.
There are also a handful of new songs on the soundtrack, but again, there’s not much to write home about here. The one possible exception is “Evermore,” the Beast’s new solo song. It feels important, and it’s powerful in the context of the story, but it’s not going to have the replay value that the original songs have.
The Bottom Line
The new Beauty and the Beast is a good time, no doubt about it. It’s the same story that fans know and love, with some brilliant twists and updates, and the production design is out of this world. Check it out when it hits theaters this weekend (but only if you’ve already seen Logan and Get Out).