Live-action remakes are the new hotness and the 2017 live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson as the eponymous Belle, is no exception. It is already the highest grossing film of 2017, adding more fuel to the fire. So is the Blu-ray worth picking up?
The Film ✮✮1/2
With the original 1991 film being such a masterpiece (it was the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars), it’s a huge undertaking when trying to do a remake. That’s being said, live-action remakes have been successfully achieved by Cinderella and The Jungle Book, so why not Beauty and the Beast? It has all the key pieces for greatness: great songs, an independent heroine, magic. So it’s a no brainer that this remake would be just as great as the original. Unfortunately, for me, it was not.
Over and over again, I felt that that the filmmakers were trying to recreate the original Beauty and the Beast, more than tell a new story of their own. Yes, there are new elements, such as new songs, extended backstories, and plot holes fixed, yet despite all those, the ultimate product just fell flat. There were many scenes that were straight up recreations of the original from camera angle to dialogue. These obviously were an attempt to appease fans and bring back great moments from the original, but to me they came off as a cheap copy.
The new songs written for the film were good for the most part. “Days in the Sun” is by far the best new song, which I could easily listen to on repeat all day, while “Evermore” doesn’t quite hit. Beast’s song “If I Can’t Love Her” from the Broadway musical would have been more fitting. I’m not entirely sure why they felt that they needed to write even more new songs for this version (when they already have a plethora of amazing songs from the Broadway play), but my guess is it was another attempt to make this one stand out on its own. Another side note about the music: can we talk about that auto-tune? Why? Just why?
While there were a few new plot points and backstories (Belle being an inventor, the Beast’s childhood, and Gaston’s wartime glory days), these new additions felt half baked. If the filmmakers wouldn’t have focused so much on trying to stick to the original’s plot points so closely and perhaps branched out a bit more on these, I feel that I would have enjoyed this film a lot more like I did with the 2015 Cinderella.
Overall, I did not enjoy this film. Midway through, I really started to lose interest and was getting annoyed by the fact that this didn’t bring new. This Beauty was simply not enchanting.
(For a different perspective on this film, check out Gary’s review.)
Bonus Features ✮✮✮✮
This Blu-ray is packed to the brim with great bonus features, such as director’s commentary lo and behold. But let’s jump into the bonus features!
Enchanted Table Read – This featurette is probably the best on the collection because it’s one of the most unique. It’s common for films to have a table read, where they bring together the entire cast to read through the script before principal photography begins. But this table read was particularly exceptional in the fact that all the musical numbers were accompanied by dancers (and even some of the cast) performing their hearts out. The detail that went into this mini production is incredible and really goes to show how special this remake really was.
A Beauty of a Tale – This is your classic making-of bonus feature where you get various interviews from the cast, crew, and other members of the production staff, who talk about various aspects of making this film, from paying homage to the original while making it their own to costumes, set pieces, and more. Director Bill Condon talks a bit about how Emma Watson was really their first and only choice for Belle because she not only fits all of the aspects of Belle’s personality, but also is a modern empowered woman who represents everything they wanted Belle to bein this film.
The Women Behind “Beauty and the Beast” – In 2017, film is not just a man’s game. This film in particular had quite a few women prominently working as heads of departments and making key decisions including set design, costuming, and more. Here Emma Watson introduces some of these women and they talk about the key aspects that they worked on to contribute to the overall film.
Making a Moment with Celine Dion – Celine Dion is iconic for her original rendition of the pop version of “Beauty and the Beast”. She’s back with a new end credits song – “How Does a Moment Last Forever” – and discusses her thoughts on the song, as well as being a part of the legacy of Beauty and the Beast.
From Song to Screen: Making the Musical Sequences – Songs are such an important part of this film, so these featurettes break down each song and give us a glimpse behind the curtain to see what went into creating each of these sequences. I loved these portions because each song had its own challenges, from “Be Our Guest” basically being just Emma by herself for a week (“The most boring time I’ve ever had on set,” she says) to the memorable “Gaston” bar scene with Josh Gad and Luke Evans.
Deleted Scenes – Every Blu-ray release should have deleted scenes and this one is no exception. There are quite a few on this disc, although disappointedly some are only 15-30 seconds long. The majority of these are deleted sequences during the mob sequence in the castle. This is led off with an incredibly short general introduction by director Bill Condon, who basically says, “Here are some deleted scenes that were cut for either time or tone.” That’s it. No follow up discussion about each of the individual scenes, which is underwhelming.
Extended Song: “Days in the Sun” – This new song is incredible, but there actually was a longer version that ended up getting cut due to advance screening feedback. Personally, I much prefer this version and wish they could have found a way to keep it as is.
“Beauty and the Beast” Music Video – You know the drill. Music video filler of the movie’s titular song performed by Ariana Grande and John Legend.
Making the Music Video – And in case you couldn’t get enough music videos, here’s how they made the music video!
Disney Song Selection – This is fun little featurette for all the song lovers out there and allows you to hop directly to all your favorite songs and sing along with the movie. Since there are so many songs in this film, you’ll be singing along for quite a while.
While I thoroughly did not enjoy the film (I’m not sure I’ll go back to watching this one for a long time), I did enjoy the bonus features. The amount of bonus features in this collection were great and went both broadly and deeply into a variety of topics. The notable absence of a director’s commentary on the actual disc is interesting, but strangely enough you can still watch if you unlock your digital copy on VUDU. If you’re a fan of this film, chances are you’ve already picked it up; if not, you may skip this one and just re-watch the original on Blu-ray.
Morgan is an Arizona native who's had a lifelong passion for animation. Her favorite animated films are Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast, and The Iron Giant. She earned an MBA in Marketing from Arizona State University and now runs her own business where she coaches and trains entrepreneurs how to launch, grow & scale successful online businesses.