I try to be supportive of Disney, and I try to keep an open mind. Some who know me might readily disagree with that statement given my record when it comes to remakes, but I contend I’m not the problem. When you remake a classic, the bar is set high. When the same company remakes the same movie, translating an animated classic to live action, it has to be something special if it’s going to work. So far this has been hit and miss for Disney, mostly miss. Cinderella was visually beautiful, but not great. Alice in Wonderland was abysmal to the point I couldn’t finish it. The Jungle Book was fantastic. And Pete’s Dragon, while considerably different, had a great deal of heart.
Now my sights are on Beauty and Beast. I’m just going to say this up front. I have no particular issues with Emma Watson as an actress or as a singer. She’s acceptable… just not as Belle. Disney released a minute of the film’s opening number, and it pretty much confirmed that statement for me. I think this movie is going to end up much like their Cinderella remake: visually interesting, but missing something vital in translation. For Belle specifically, the problem comes from the fact that Emma Watson has grown into a fine actress, but she’s not a professionally-trained singer. To my ears, she’s missing… something. She’s no Paige O’Hara. To be fair, who can be? Let me just put these clips back to back, and you can tell me what you think.
See what I mean? It’s like Emma’s holding back, or possibly that she’s unable to take the vocals nearly as far as Paige did. Or do you find Emma to more than adequate to the role? Let me know what you think.
For myself, I think curiosity will probably drive me to see the film on home video at some point. What I can tell from this and from trailers so far, this doesn’t look bad. It just doesn’t look special, which is what these kinds of movies should be.