Even before “Beauty and the Beast” was released live in 2017, the hype was real. Within 24 hours of its YouTube release, the trailer racked up 127 million views, making it the most-watched new movie trailer at the time (via Vanity Fair). The hype lingered in theaters, with the musical grossing over $1 billion worldwide (via Forbes).
Although “Beauty and the Beast” was a box office hit, many fans thought Emma Watson was the weakest link. On Reddit, reviews range from touchy to downright dismissive. “I think she looked the part and had the name that would fill their need for a lead actress,” u/OverOnTheWildSide wrote, “but [I] agree his performance wasn’t up to par.” Meanwhile, u/Alert_Ad_5750 went for the jugular, “His game is weak and outdated; everything always seems so forced and rigid.” Another user joked that she would have made a better beast.
Luckily for Watson, she had seasoned critics in her corner. Richard Roeper defended the performance, calling it “all grit and guts and sass and smarts and fierce independence as Belle” in his Chicago Sun-Times review.
No matter what you think of Watson’s acting (or singing) abilities, there’s no denying that she’s made strides for Belle, transforming her from a dedicated assistant to a brave inventor. Watson was also instrumental in updating Belle’s wardrobe, introducing pockets to store her tools and replacing her delicate ballet slippers with riding boots. “The foreground of the movie can’t be Belle walking out of this quiet little town with a basket containing a white towel,” she told Vanity Fair. “We have to make things happen!”