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Early ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

Variety logo Variety 3/3/2017 Will Thorne
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It’s a tale as old as time, with songs as old as rhyme, but how does the new re-telling of “Beauty and the Beast” stand up compared to its legendary 1991 ancestor?

According to early reviews of Disney’s latest edition, which stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the title roles, the film has a few thorns and falling petals, which detract from the overall beauty of the rose.

While critics have found some recent remakes of Disney classics, such as “Maleficent” and Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book” to be worthy additions to magical world of Disney, others, like “Alice in Wonderland,” have been briskly panned. A major question for reviews of “Beauty and the Beast” to answer is, “Which camp does the film fall into?”

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman:

“Is the movie as transporting and witty a romantic fantasy as the animated original? Does it fall crucially short? Or is it in some ways better? The answer, at different points in the film, is yes to all three, but the bottom line is this: The new “Beauty and the Beast” is a touching, eminently watchable, at times slightly awkward experience that justifies its existence yet never totally convinces you it’s a movie the world was waiting for.”

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw:

“This movie is allegedly updating its assumptions to include a gay character…while leaving the heterosexual politics untouched. Beastly ugliness is symbolic of tragic male loneliness even as the imprisoned pretty woman submissively redeems her captor’s suffering. The Shrek twist on this scenario has more of a sense of humour: the woman becomes ugly as well.”

New York Times’ A. O. Scott:

“There are a few moments — a climactic high-elevation fight scene that looks like every other climactic high-elevation fight scene; a chase through the forest involving wolves — where the digital seams show, and you’re aware of the cold presence of lines of code behind the images. Most of the time, though, you are happily fooled. More than that: enchanted.”

USA Today’s Brian Truitt:

“Watson’s singing is shaky early on with the signature Belle, though she settles into her feisty character who has no patience for illiterate brutes like uber-macho town hero Gaston (Luke Evans). Stevens’ Beast is created through visual effects wizardry, but he finds the right balance between the despair of his pre-Belle days and the good-hearted, surprisingly witty dude he later becomes.”

IndieWire’s Jude Dry:

“The film that opens in theaters this weekend remains faithful to its source material, with glimmering costumes and sets that feel like Disneyland. Condon (“Kinsey,” “Dreamgirls”) practically follows the animated film shot for shot, filling in as necessary for added exposition and a few extra songs. At 129 minutes, compared to the original film’s 110, Condon’s version feels overstuffed. It also feels like that scene in the animated original when the servants dress the Beast for dinner with Belle, powdering his face and fluffing his hair until he looks ridiculous and completely out of place.”

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