Wednesday, October 19, 2011

classic movie review Beauty and the Beast 3D

There most likely isn't anyone out there who hasn't seen or at least heard of the Disney animated classic Beauty and the Beast.  The first animated movie nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, winning two Academy Awards, grossing close to $400 million at the box office and spawning the hugely successful Broadway musical, Beauty and the Beast is obviously a very important property to the Disney company.  It is hard to believe that in just a few weeks it will be 20 years since it was first released.

With the increased focus on 3D films over the past few years, it is no surprise that Disney has gone back into their film vaults to convert some of their most successful properties to 3D.  The first two films to get the 3D conversion are Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.  And while The Lion King received a wide commercial theatrical 3D release for a few weeks before both films were released on blu ray and blu ray 3D, at first Beauty and the Beast was only deemed a blu ray release of the new 3D version and a few 3D screenings in select cities.  But with the success that the 3D release of Lion King generated, Disney has now announced that Beauty and the Beast and a few other classic Disney titles will also get theatrical 3D releases.  Beauty in 3D hits theaters on January 13th.  So it is a little strange that I've been able to enjoy the new 3D version of this movie in the comfort of my living room several months before the same 3D version will be in theaters.

The ballroom scene looks especially amazing in 3D.
So, how does the converted 3D version look?  Actually, it looks pretty good.  The traditional flat cell animation (as compared to digital animation) provides a fairly consistent palate to work from.  There are numerous scenes with multiple layers of cells that when separated in the 3D process create a rich and deep viewing experience.  And while the flat cell animation is not able to provide the more rounded 3D effects to certain objects and faces that digital animation provides, there were many times when items like Mrs. Pott's spout or arm was closer to the viewer then the rest of her body.  Large production numbers like "Be Our Guest" and "Belle" also benefited from the multiple cell planes and multiple characters and objects to create a lush, rich and deep 3D effect.  The scene in the ballroom during the title song when the camera goes by the huge chandelier is pretty spectacular in 3D.  Now, there were several times when the original animation was on the flat and very basic side, so those moments just weren't suitable to have much done to them to make them 3D.  Fortunately those moments are few.

poster for the theatrical 3D release
A couple of other comments.  It is amazing how lean a story Beauty and the Beast is.  There pretty much isn't any moment or line of dialogue that isn't relevant to the overall story, so the film moves along at a very brisk pace.  I guess it has been a very long time since I've seen the movie, so I'm more used to the book of the stage musical which has a lot more for the Beast to do.  I will say that the stage version does have some really great new songs that add much more to the character of the Beast, and in the film version having him just sing a little bit of one song seems very strange now after the experience of him having a couple of solos in the stage version.  One last note, the 3D version is of the original 1991 animated movie, not the expanded version from 2002 that included the song "Human Again."

After enjoying this movie in 3D, I'm looking forward to watching The Lion King in 3D in the comfort of my living room next, so be on the lookout for that review coming soon.

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