Disney’s latest film to get the live action treatment is arguably their greatest animated film. The story of an enchanted prince learning that beauty is not on the surface but what comes from within.
Where I felt Disney stumbled with The Jungle Book last year (I know I am in the minority) is that they removed the majority of the well-known songs and tried to ground the story in reality. For me, that resulted in it losing the fun and magic of the original. Thankfully, here they have kept all the songs and in fact, the film plays out almost identically to the Disney original with an added prologue and some new songs. As a result, I found this to be mostly a triumph.
The look and feel of the film are exquisite, the casting is spot on, the additional songs good and the additional scenes embellishing character back story are useful additions, even if they do extend the film past the two-hour mark. But where this film soars, is in the staging of the original songs. The opening song where Belle walks through the village (pushed further into the film due to the new prologue) is where the film takes off and Gaston’s song in the bar is still hilarious especially with the comedic singing of Josh Gad playing Disney’s first openly gay character LeFou.
If I were to gripe, it would be in the pacing. It is a lot longer than the original, but I can understand the merit in the additional scenes and I enjoyed the new songs. All in all, I hope Disney’s pursuit of turning their classics to live action are more like this than the dour Cinderella and Jungle Book.