You could say that the idea of turning beloved stories and characters into brands was invented by Walt Disney who gave birth to Mickey Mouse. With the launch of Disneyland, where kids could see old familiar characters — Mickey! Snow White! — in a completely different context, which made them new. Twenty-three years ago, the Broadway version of “Beauty and the Beast” introduced a different form of re-branding. Now the studio has decided to relive the fantasies with Belle once again. Starring Emma Watson as Belle, his Disney motion picture once again made people fall in love with the movie. Everything was old yet the movie seemed new. It’s a lovingly crafted movie, and in many ways a good one, but before that it’s an enraptured piece of old-is-new nostalgia.
There’s a lot riding on “Beauty and the Beast.” Given its sheer novelty value, the picture seems destined to score decisively at the box office. But the larger question hanging over it is: How major — how paradigm-shifting — can this new form be? Is it a fad or a revolution? Disney already has a live-action “Lion King” in the works, but it remains to be seen whether transforming animated features into dramas with sets and actors can be an inspired, or essential, format for the future.
Going into “Beauty and the Beast,” the sheer curiosity factor exerts a uniquely intense lure. 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. Nevertheless, we surely enjoyed watching Emma as the new Belle with her glass-hour body gowned up in beautiful corsets and gowns. The beast looked beastly for sure. May be this one was the new generation beast with muscles and Hulk-like shape. Disneys never fail to leave behind a mark and they did it this time as well.