My Top 15 Favorite Film Musicals

Almost everyone, at some point in time, loved a musical. As children, musicals are one of the first genres we are exposed to thanks in large part to the Disney Renaissance of the late 80’s and 90’s. As a film buff who was also exposed to theater in college and has a sibling who is a dancer, the genre has always been one of my favorites (when done correctly). So here is the list of my Top 15 musical films of all time. There have been plenty of sensational musicals on Broadway over the years (*cough* Hamilton), but this is a movie blog so every movie on this list will be ranked based on the quality of the film as well as the music. Enjoy!

15. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952)

220px-Singing_in_the_rain_poster

It only makes sense to start with a musical classic. Singin’ in the Rain is a staple of old Hollywood cinema and features vibrant set pieces and some fun choreography performed by an iconic cast. For all intents and purposes, it is the first film that comes to my mind when I think of classic musical films.

FAVORITE SONG: “Singin’ in the Rain” of course. It has a wonderful jazzy feel to it.

 

14. INTO THE WOODS (2014)

Into_the_Woods_film_poster

This movie had great potential until its somewhat jarring and poorly fitting final act. But that doesn’t change the fact that this blending of classic fairy tales set to music by iconic composer Stephen Sondheim is an overall fun film with a great cast.

FAVORITE SONG: “Agony” is not only a great song, but seeing the two pompous princes (Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen) perform it is the funniest part in the movie.

 

13. THE WIZ (1978)

The-wiz-1978

The Motown re-imagining of L.Frank Baum’s classic novel doesn’t get enough credit. The set pieces and costumes are gorgeous. And you can’t go wrong musically with the likes of Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

FAVORITE SONG: Young Michael Jackson’s soulful rendition of “You can’t win” will always be my favorite.

 

12. LES MISERABLES (2013)

Les-miserables-movie-poster1

This would be much higher on the list if I actually enjoyed the movie as much as I enjoyed the stage performance. Casting Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried was almost an insult to the incredible music created by French composer Claude-Michel Schonberg. I was also not a fan of having the actors sing live rather than having the songs dubbed like most musicals. But Hugh Jackman was amicable as Jean Valjean and Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, and Samantha Barks all give sensational performances.

FAVORITE SONG: Not even Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried’s lackluster vocals can spoil “One Day More”.

 

11. THE LAST FIVE YEARS (2014)

The_Last_Five_Years_poster

This film is undoubtedly the least known as it was essentially only released On-Demand. But if you’re a fan of musicals or romantic comedies, I suggest you check it out. The film chronicles the relationship between a struggling actress (Anna Kendrick) and a successful writer (Jeremy Jordan). It earns points for its unique non-linear narrative along with a great soundtrack.

FAVORITE SONG: The song “A Part of That” shows off Kendrick’s enchanting vocals and also personifies her character’s inner struggle with the success of her significant other while her career sputters.

 

10. DREAMGIRLS (2006)

215px-Dreamgirls

This film featured an all star cast that included Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé, Eddie Murphy, Anika Noni Rose, and famously won Jennifer Hudson a much deserved Academy Award. It does get a bit lengthy, but what Broadway musical turned film doesn’t?

FAVORITE SONG: While I love the song “Heavy”, because it has a Destiny’s Child vibe to it, it’s only about a minute and a half long, I’ll go with the obvious choice in “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” which was powerfully performed by Hudson.

 

9. IDLEWILD (2006)

Idlewild_poster

This film is highly underrated and features incredible Hip Hop duo Outkast in their musical production debut. It also helped launch the career of Paula Patton. A unique hip hop musical before the likes of Hamilton, this film features some great cinematography (albeit a bit jarring at times) as well as a soundtrack that’s basically just another Outkast album.

FAVORITE SONG: “Movin’ Cool” (which ironically isn’t on the official soundtrack) is a wonderful duet that also marks one of the most endearing moments in the film when Andre 3000’s Percival helps Patton’s Sally B. Shelly become the actual star she had been posing as.

 

8. ALADDIN (1992)

Aladdinposter

You didn’t think this was going to be a list of greatest musicals and not include Disney films, did you? Well get ready, because they’re about to come in droves. This film is an animated classic and features a ton of iconic songs as well as some great characters like The Genie.

FAVORITE SONG: “A Whole New World” is easily the best romantic ballad in all of Disney history.

 

7. THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (2009)

220px-The_Princess_and_the_Frog_poster

The most underappreciated Disney film of all time. The characters were fun and endearing, but what won me over was the music which carries a beautiful touch of New Orleans jazz that is fitting and unique.

FAVORITE SONG: “Friends on the Other Side” is my all time favorite villain song and the scene probably would’ve given me nightmares if I wasn’t 21 years old when I first saw it.

 

6. THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (1998)

Prince_of_egypt_ver2

Take notes Ridley Scott. THIS is how you tell the story of Moses. This is still the greatest non-Disney animated musical ever made. The animation is vibrant and pays homage to the art of the era and the music (written by Stephen Schwartz and Hans Zimmer) is nothing short of breathtaking.

FAVORITE SONG: Choosing the late Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s rendition of “When You Believe” would be a cop out since it isn’t in the actual movie until the end credits, so I’ll go with the hauntingly beautiful “The Plagues” which features a duet between Moses (performed by Amick Byram) and his brother turned enemy, Rameses (Ralph Fiennes).

 

5. LA LA LAND (2016)

la_la_land_film

I knew there was a reason I had waited to post my list of favorite musicals. La La Land was one of my favorite films of 2016 and it featured captivating performances by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as well as some excellent jazz music fused with the style of old Hollywood.

FAVORITE SONG: “Someone In the Crowd” is a great toe tapping arrangement and the scene features some sensational cinematography.

4. THE LION KING (1992)

The_Lion_King_poster

I originally had this higher on my totem pole until I realized I loved the story and characters more than the music itself. But that’s not to say the music isn’t great as well. Lion King still has the best intro song of any Disney musical and all of the songs are memorable.

FAVORITE SONG: “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” arranged by Elton John, comes in a close second. But my favorite is “Hakuna Matata”… duh. It means no worries. Who knew the safari was so hip to jazz music?

 

3. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991)

Beautybeastposter

Emphasis on the 1991 version. The remake was fine, but Emma Watson doesn’t have the vocal range of Paige O’Hara. This film features one of the most angelic compositions in any movie to date and it helps that the story itself is full of memorable characters.

FAVORITE SONG: The title song, performed by the great Angela Lansbury, is a fan favorite. But my actual favorite song from the film is the opening number titled “Belle”.

 

2. SWEENEY TODD (2007)

Sweeneylarge

Tim Burton’s grungy, wonderfully gory and gothic, musical horror film adaptation is not actually as great as the musical stage play I once saw in person at my alma mater (UNCG), but it’s still excellent. Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and the late Alan Rickman deserve credit for holding their own musically and not spoiling Stephen Sondheim’s vivacious soundtrack. If the movie had true vocalists, this would actually be #1 on my list as it is my favorite musical (excluding Hamilton).

FAVORITE SONG: As a fun and exciting duet that is ironically vibrant and boisterous despite being the prelude of attempted murder, “Pretty Women” is the epitome of the overall tone of the film.

 

1. MULAN (1998)

Movie_poster_mulan

One of my favorite animated films features a soundtrack that I believe is flawless. The empowering story is also great so this film is in this spot simply because it is the ultimate combination of wonderful music infused with the culture of its setting and a movie worth watching even without the music.

FAVORITE SONG: Let’s get down to business, to defeat the Hun. Did they send me daughters, when I asked for sons? You’re the saddest bunch I’ve ever met, but you can bet before we’re through… mister “I’ll Make a Man Out of You!” Yes… I wrote that without looking up the lyrics. Judge away.

 

Honorable Mention: West Side Story (1961), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Hairspray (2007), Chicago (2002), Lady and the Tramp (1955), Pocahontas (1995), Tangled (2007), Moana (2016)

Think I left something off of my list? Feel free to comment and share! And if you have any suggestions for other lists, feel free to comment them below! Thanks for reading!

My Top 15 Favorite Film Musicals

Spring 2017 Quick Reviews (Belko, Life, Going in Style)

The_Belko_Experiment_posterTHE BELKO EXPERIMENT James Gunn, the man that brought us Guardians of the Galaxy, brings us this violent, action horror film that’s Hunger Games meets Saw with a dash of Cabin in the Woods. It tells the story of a group of unsuspecting employees who are locked in an office building and forced to play a deadly game that forces them to execute their co-workers and closest friends.

The film’s gruesome nature is its best attribute. With a plot that is as dreary as it is brutal, it no doubt will be entertaining for anyone who is a fan of the genre. The amicable cast of B-listers does a decent job of actually making you care about the characters that are mostly killed off by the films end. Don’t look for any type of mind boggling subtext. Whatever additional  point the film was trying to make in between the blood splatter gets lost in translation pretty quickly. FINAL GRADE: B

 

Life_(2017_film)ALIEN… I Mean… LIFE Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A crew of space explorers comes across an extraterrestrial life form that begins aggressively hunting them down one by one. Even the font of the title card looks like its ripped straight from Ridley Scott’s classic horror franchise. The film sports an all star cast (Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson) as the crew of a NASA space station that makes first contact with a single celled Martian organism that rapidly grows into a man-eating super creature.

The film attempts to differentiate from Alien by applying more science to the science fiction. The specifics of the creature (nicknamed Calvin in the film) are spelled out for the audience, giving a sense of realism that does manage to add to the horror of it all. But none of the characters are memorable and only one of them (Hiroyuki Sinada) has an endearing subplot. So even though the film delivers on suspense, overall it just comes off feeling like a rip-off of something we’ve already seen done better. FINAL GRADE: C

 

Going_in_Style_2017_film_posterGOING IN STYLE Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin star as a group of elderly friends who lose their retirement pension when the factory they used to work for is sold to an oversees company. Desperate to save their homes and support their families, the loveable trio seeks out the help of a master thief (John Ortiz) to help them plot a bank heist. Matt Dillon also stars as relatively dense FBI agent hot on their trail.

The movie tries its damndest to be Last Vegas meets Ocean’s Eleven, but it never really pulls off the latter part well. From the moment the heist goes down, you’ll need to suspend every ounce of common sense and belief in the FBI to believe that a bunch of elderly men can pull of the theft of millions of dollars in broad daylight. But the cast makes things entertaining simply by them being their charismatic selves. Simple charm makes these men feel like the grandpas you wish you had and that makes the film likable even through its flimsy story. FINAL GRADE: C

Spring 2017 Quick Reviews (Belko, Life, Going in Style)

The Fate of the Furious (Full Review)

Hi, my name is Brady and I am not a fan of Fast and the Furious. I have my reasons: The action is often so over the top that it borders on dumb. Vin Diesel has the personality of a cardboard box. Tyrese’s character is just a useless clown. And the convoluted plots seem as if they were created by watching a kindergartner play with action figures. But, at its best, this franchise that has now spanned 16 years is young Expendables with eye popping action meant for mindless, “turn your brain off and watch” fun. So whether I like it or not, here we go again.

The_Fate_of_The_Furious_Theatrical_PosterThe Fate of the Furious takes place shortly after Furious 7 (If you are a newcomer to the series, you’ll need to have seen at least parts 5 through 7 to understand half of it). After marrying girlfriend Letty (Michele Rodriguez), crew leader Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is approached by a terrorist hacker named Cypher (Charlize Theron) who blackmails him into turning on his team. Kurt Russell returns as Mr. Nobody, a U.S. government agent who along with his new assistant (Scott Eastwood), assembles Toretto’s former team of thieves, cops, hackers and street racers, (Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Tyrese Gipson, Nathalie Emmanuel) to track him and Cypher down.

The first third of the film is almost gag inducing to anyone who shares my same sentiments about this franchise. As always, there’s a next to irrelevant and predictable street race to open the film, followed by rushed exposition, Dwayne Johnson being a real life version of The Hulk, and Tyrese’s Roman Pearce continuing to be one of the most useless characters in all of cinema. We get it. He’s comic relief, but what is his actual purpose on the team? In this film it takes him two hours to do anything worthwhile. When the cast isn’t shoving the constant concept of family down your throat (Hey guys, did you know they’re a family!), the characters are spitting out cliché line after line.

But about an hour in, things shockingly improve. This is due in large part to the presence of Charlize Theron who noticeably brings her A-game as the film’s villain. Her cunning and ominously intimidating character seems plucked right out of a James Bond movie and provides the fuel for all of the film’s most dramatic scenes. Her portrayal even lifts that of Vin Diesel who easily gives his most believable performance yet. That’s not to say things improve too much. There’s still a bunch of off the wall plot twists and ridiculous character arcs (Jason Statham’s a good guy now? Didn’t he kill one of their “family members”?) that keep things from being too likable.

Like with all of these movies, and most in the genre, things work best when everyone shuts the hell up and drives/fights. The action manages to ramp things up to even more ridiculous levels than in previous films and as such there are plenty of moments where logic and laws of physics be damned. But seeing as how making sense isn’t a prerequisite for entertainment, the action in Fate of the Furious is pretty exciting. Coupled with a worthy adversary that helps counterbalance some of the more useless additions (Looking at you Scott Eastwood), this movie manages to avoid being terrible and winds up landing on the more tolerable end of the Fast and Furious spectrum.

FINAL GRADE: C

The Fate of the Furious (Full Review)

Ghost in the Shell (2017) – Full Review

Video game movies seem to be the hardest for Hollywood to adapt. But coming in at a close second is anime adaptations. If the dreaded Dragonball Evolution taught us anything, it’s that Americanized anime can lead to a massive failure. But with the blessing of the company that owns the source material, the latest attempt to adapt a popular manga and anime series looks to be a step up in the genre.

Ghost_in_the_Shell_(2017_film)Based loosely on Masumune Shirow’s original manga series, Ghost in the Shell takes place in a distant future version of Japan where cybernetic enhancements have become a societal norm. Scarlett Johansson stars as The Major, a revolutionary android with a human brain who remembers little about her past. As a member of a special task force known as Section 9, she fights alongside a burly officer with robotic eyes (Pilou Asbæk) and a stoic but loyal Chief (Takeshi Kitano). When the team begins investigating a cyber terrorist (Michael Pitt), the Major’s true past begins to bring her into conflict with her team and her own creator (Peter Ferdinando).

Like with Exodus: Gods and Kings and Gods of Egypt, this film isn’t flimsy because of its miscast leads. In fact, more than any misrepresented film, this one actually attempts to weave some of its primary casting choices into the plot. So while it’s still arguably unjustifiable, it doesn’t seem as blatantly egregious. The biggest problem is that Scarlett Johansson never really seems to fit the role and not just because of her race. Johansson spends the entire film operating as if her only instructions were to be robotic. The character is supposed to show little emotion, but that doesn’t mean the Major can’ have some sort of dry wit. As a result, there is virtually no charm or even interest to a character that dominates the screen time.

I’m by no means a fan of the anime, but I’ve watched some of it before, and Johansson’s portrayal fails to fairly represent what should’ve been a very invigorating character. The film’s plot, which takes no real risks and is filled with action sci-fi cliches, doesn’t help either. And while the casting of white actors in some roles are virtually explained, little to no such attention is given to the numerous other non-Japanese characters in the film. Why is a black Australian (Lasarus Ratuere) playing a character named Ishikawa? Why exactly is a Japanese company called Hanka Robotics run by a white guy?

But unlike the dumpster fire that is Dragonball Evolution, this film does get some things right. Visually, the movie is absolutely stunning and takes advantage of 3D technology. The action sequences are also smooth and exhilarating like a new version of The Matrix so even though only a handful of the characters are interesting, such as Kitano’s Chief Aramaki and the also noticeably white Pilou Asbæk’s portrayal of Batou, the movie does manage to capture the atmosphere of the Ghost in the Shell franchise.

There’s absolutely no guarantee that an all Japanese cast would’ve made the movie better or even more profitable, but it could’ve given the story more room to find a purpose or at least connect with the source material. A futuristic film where police hunt cyborgs while being lead by a cyborg could’ve worked just fine without the story hovering around its main character’s melodramatic background. As it stands this version of Ghost in the Shell is an aesthetically nice product with relatively hollow intrigue, much like the lead actress’ portrayal.

FINAL GRADE: C

Ghost in the Shell (2017) – Full Review

Power Rangers (2017) – Full Review

If you were born before 1993, as I was, then you understand that Power Rangers isn’t just a popular children’s TV franchise that is still cranking out iterations after 24 years. For us, Power Rangers was a phenomenon when it first launched in the early 90’s. It was what kids watched when they came home from school, and what they talked about when they went back to school. Picturing you and your friends fighting monsters in giant robots, what’s not to like? By rebooting Power Rangers and reimagining it for a new generation, Lionsgate and Director Dean Israelite hope to play on that wonderful 90’s nostalgia and replace its after school special vibe with a more realistic take.

Power_Rangers_(2017_Official_Theatrical_Poster)Based on the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, this new film takes the general concept: five “teenagers with attitude” are recruited by interdimensional floating head Zordan and his robot sidekick Alpha 5 to fight against evil sorceress Rita Repulsa and her army of monsters… and adds a few tweaks. This time around, Rita (Elizabeth Banks) is a former ranger who betrayed and killed her team but was defeated by Zordon (Bryan Cranston) who sacrificed his body to protect the power coins and planet Earth. When Rita is resurrected, fate claims former jock Jason (Dacre Montgomery), troubled cheer leader Kimberly (Naomi Scott), bullied nerd Billy (R.J. Cyler), class cutting goofball Zack (Ludi Lin), and loner Trini (Becky G) as the new team of Power Rangers. To defeat Rita, they must learn to come together as a team and more importantly as friends.

First, let’s get the most gigantic flaw out of the way. There is very little Power Rangers in Power Rangers. The team doesn’t morph and fight until the film’s final act. If you’re more excited about seeing the updated, and at times flimsy, CGI effects and the colossal Mega Zord, then prepare to be utterly disappointed. Sure, the action is enjoyable when it finally does hit, but that doesn’t change the fact that the movie is more of a character study than it is a science fiction action movie.

But that isn’t to say that Power Rangers is a bad movie, because it’s actually better than it even needs to be. And as a character study it surprisingly works. This is due in large part to a well rounded cast of young actors. Using the phrase “teenagers with attitude” for the original characters is a bit of a joke because they were all a bunch of goody two shoes. But here, the characters all have real problems that give them an edge. Jason is a star quarterback kicked off of the team after getting arrested. Zack lives in poverty with his deathly ill single mother. Trini has a tumultuous relationship with her parents and is struggling with her sexuality. Billy, who easily steals the show, is an autistic genius whose desire for real companionship is the endearing glue that holds the team together.

Even Zordon isn’t quite the wise, nurturing mentor we remember him as. He struggles with entrusting such immense powers to a bunch of emo teens and wonders if he should use them to return to physical form. Meanwhile Bill Hader’s Alpha 5 has gone from being meek and annoying in the T.V. show to being the Rangers’ snarky trainer. The only character back story that falls flat is Kimberly’s, but that isn’t for lack of trying by actress Naomi Scott who makes the character likable but not particularly interesting.

And just because the characters are a bit grittier doesn’t mean the movie is too dreary or boring. The actors all have fantastic chemistry and when jokes come they feel genuinely funny and have timing that never feels forced. As a result, these Power Rangers actually manage to tug at your heart strings so that when tragedy does strike, you genuinely feel a sense of camaraderie and family from the team.

There are still some cheesy moments and Elizabeth Banks’ portrayal of Rita Repulsa is a bit hokey, but would it really be Power Rangers without a few bad puns and the basic sniveling villain? The movie also deserves credit for polishing the Power Rangers mythos into something far more coherent and effectively setting up sequels. When Lionsgate first announced this movie, I wrote a post about my do’s and dont’s for the movie. After seeing it, this more emotionally grounded adaptation almost checks out perfectly. So even without a ton of action (that’s what sequels are for anyway), Power Rangers ends up being a fun and enjoyable homage to one of pop culture’s most iconic entries.

FINAL GRADE: B

Power Rangers (2017) – Full Review

Kong: Skull Island (Full Review)

The last time King Kong was on the big screen it was in a three hour long Peter Jackson film with a few goofy characters and some glaring plot holes (Still trying to figure out how they got that giant gorilla back to New York City). The best parts of that film were easily the action sequences that saw Kong battling monsters and destroying planes. So this time around, in this rebooted origin story, they’re giving the people more of what they want.

Kong_Skull_Island_posterKong: Skull Island takes place in 1974. Two scientists (John Goodman, Corey Hawkins) looking to prove the existence of giant monsters, journey with a survivalist (Tom Hiddleston), a photographer (Brie Larson) and a few soldiers fresh from the Vietnam War (Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham) to an uncharted island where they come in contact with the mighty Kong. After their helicopters are quickly demolished, the military colonel (Samuel L. Jackson) vows to kill the beast while a long lost soldier stranded on the island for 30 years (John C. Reilly) seeks to warn them that Kong is actually protecting the island from creatures much more deadly.

As I mentioned before, this movie is all about the action. There are several battles between Kong and a heap of slivering monsters that are just as exhilarating as the Kong vs. T-Rex fight in Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong. The early sequence that sees Kong destroying helicopters is also a fun experience. So if you’re here for that then you won’t be disappointed.

Unfortunately, that’s essentially all this Kong film has to offer. The characters, from their dialogue to their personalities all seem too much like clichés to be memorable. The lone exception is John C. Reilly’s Hank Marlow, a comically noble yet relatively senile character with an endearing personality and back story the audience can actually get behind. There are other attempts at endearment, but his is the only one that doesn’t fall flat.

The film does well to keep things moving, spacing out the sluggish dialogue and weak characters with suspense and eye popping action. It goes without saying, in a movie about a giant gorilla, that some parts require you to turn your brain off and just watch. Sometimes summer popcorn movies are released in March, and Kong: Skull Island is a perfect example of a moderately fun film that’s worthy of at least one viewing.

FINAL GRADE: B

MOORE REVIEWS Grading Scale:

A = Must See/Top 10 Nominee

B = Good film. Flawed, but still very entertaining

C = Not Bad, but highly flawed/Probably better off waiting for Redbox

D = Terrible Movie with a few redeeming qualities

F = I wanted to walk out/Don’t waste time or money

Kong: Skull Island (Full Review)

Beauty and the Beast (Full Review)

Disney’s 1991 animated Beauty and the Beast is in the pantheon of classic animated films along with the likes of Aladdin and Lion King. As such, it isn’t really a story that begs retelling. But Disney has already proven that it can turn its animated properties into worthwhile live action films with 2014’s Cinderella and last year’s Jungle Book. With a star studded cast and a bit of CGI magic, director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) looks to make Beauty and the Beast into a refreshing take for a new generation.

Beauty_and_the_Beast_2017_posterIn case you’ve lived under a rock and don’t know the story: Beauty and the Beast is the tale of a shallow prince (Dan Stevens) who is turned into a beast by a sorceress and his servants all turned into objects. Only the affection of someone who recognizes his inner beauty can end their curse. Emma Watson stars as Belle, the humble daughter of a widowed craftsman (Kevin Kline) who defies the norms of 18th century French girls by reading in her spare time and has the unwanted affection of a pompous soldier named Gaston (Luke Evans). When her father is kidnapped by the beast, Belle takes his place as the Beast’s prisoner.

Jokes of Stockholm syndrome aside, Beauty and the Beast, while dated, is an enchanting story with a valuable lesson that life is happier when you aren’t an a-hole. The animated version was full of charm and the impressive cast does a solid job carrying the torch. Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen have fun, effective chemistry as Lumiere the talking candle and Cogsworth the talking clock. And while she isn’t quite Angela Lansbury, Emma Thompson manages to bring a similar wholesome vibe to the role of Mrs. Potts the talking teapot. Several of the characters even have a bit more weight than they did in the animated version. Josh Gad, bringing a solid dose of bumbling comic relief as Gaston’s flamboyant sidekick Lefou, is a perfect example of this.

Because no one in the cast drops the ball in their roles, the film succeeds in bringing a bright burst of nostalgia to anyone who is a fan of the 1991 version. If only they could sing as well, because the music is essentially the same and all of the songs are back but noticeably underperformed. A few new songs are also added, some welcomed, and some that feel completely unnecessary which becomes a trend for the entire narrative. While some of the changes from the animated version add depth to the story and characters, many of the additions and changed scenes serve little to no purpose and make the movie drag a bit.

Visually the movie is also a bit inconsistent. Look no further than the Beast and the enchanted objects, who at times look strikingly real and at other times look clunky and underdeveloped. The gorgeous scenery, costumes and set pieces, however, don’t disappoint and bring an added dose of French culture that pay homage to the era better than any animated film ever could.

As a musical, the vocals all being a noticeable step downward is a bit of a crutch that is hard to overcome when you’re attempting to remake a beloved classic. With an updated narrative that is more in depth but also more cluttered, it’s difficult to consider this version better, as good, or even inherently necessary aside from a pleasant dose of diversity to its cast. Beauty and the Beast ends up being a fun trip down memory lane that is at times visually captivating, but if you’re looking for the definitive version of this classic fairy tale, look up the 1991 version.

FINAL GRADE: B

Beauty and the Beast (Full Review)