So Disney had to try to go one better. Too bad. I suppose they thought that a musical version with live actors and CGI settings and magical characters would touch all the bases. And it did. It’s just that some of the bases should have been left out.
Beauty and the Beast has always been a two-part story. One setting is outside the forest, in the “real” world. The other place is in the magical world, and inside the hearts of the two inamorati. In the original fairy tale (and the old Disney cartoon) the important part of the story, the magical part in more ways than one, was emphasized.
Modern Disney obviously thought that, since it was a musical, they had to make a musical out of it. So we have the whole first part of the movie taking place in the village, where stereotyped village people sing songs with inane words and forgettable tunes to the accompaniment of stale choreography typical of musical theatre, unchanged for the last 80 years.
However, once we get to the two main characters, the real story begins. Emma Watson carries the show, though she is hardly the typical Disney heroine. After all, her most potent and versatile facial expression is a quizzical frown, sometimes with a flicker of a grin, other times with a fierce stare. It’s more difficult to see Dan Stevens’s performance because of the makeup and CGI, but he certainly does a meaningful roar.
There isn’t enough of the “dancing teacups” a la the old version, but the characters of the magical creatures are far more human than those of the live actors in the first half. One area where Disney excells, of course, is in cartoon settings, although the rest of the world seems to have caught up with them in this area.
All in all, a pretty typical Disney effort: trying to please everybody, and succeeding with most of us some of the time.(4 / 5)