Beauty and the Beast
Remakes present a challenge for critics, especially remakes of widely seen films, since the obvious urge is to make insipid apples-to-apples comparisons between the two, rather than judge each movie on its own merits. Bill Condon’s ghastly live-action remake Beauty and the Beast, on the other hand, practically pleads for comparisons to the 1991 Disney animated feature. Rather than reimagining or recontextualizing a Disney chestnut, this new Beauty and the Beast is essentially a scene-for-scene, note-for-note recreation of the cartoon, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken songs and everything. It’s a high-gloss recycle job, designed to do nothing more than massage your nostalgia sensors for two interminable hours. The problem for Condon and company is that every single scene in their remake pales in comparison to the animated feature—in every place that Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise’s enchanting animated feature is nimble and magical, this remake is bloated and clumsy. D.B.