The film is a deserved classic in the Disney cannon though it has never been my favorite from the era. Beauty and the Beast was part of the early 90’s resurgence for the company’s animation studio and while very good it falls behind Aladdin, Lion King, and The Little Mermaid for me. That said it was great to revisit the film in the cinema and it is still a gorgeous piece of animation to behold.
The film is straight forward and a classic fairy tale, but the film is mighty affective when it needs to be. Filled with a number of memorable characters, moments, and musical sequences there is a lot for anyone of any age to enjoy. From The Beast to Lumiere the cast of characters are varied and full of life and even the film’s villain, Gaston, is likable in a buffoonish way. Turning the help staff into household items allows for some fun humor, just don’t think about the logistics of what became what in the house to hard, and gives the story an interesting wrinkle to keep the kids engaged.
The Beast is the most interesting character in the story and his arc from angst filled teenager to a caring young man is more than compelling. The back and forth between him and Belle is an easy one to get behind even if the relationship is sped along a bit too conveniently. The Beast’s sacrifice works wonderfully though and they really earn the film’s final payoff even if they rushed it along.
The musical aspect of the film is full of a number of memorable songs and the numbers themselves are wonderfully put together. Though, I am not going to lie, they seemed less grand than I remember, even in spiffy new 3D. I always thought “Be Our Guest” was a giant and elaborate musical number in my memory, but it seemed far less fantastic years later. Same goes for the ballroom dance number, which was still quite beautiful, but the moment is far more fleeting than I once thought. The opening song “Belle” and the quite funny “Gaston” had even a stronger impression on me this time around so I guess it all evens out in the end.
The animation is still quite beautiful and it makes you pine for more hand drawn titles in today’s day and age. The CG chandelier shots are a bit dated sure, but I will stand by that ballroom scene as the melding of 2D and 3D still looks great. The film’s finale in particular, from the roof tops to the battle raging inside the castle walls, still looks fantastic and the animators have crafted one of the finest looking animated films of all time. The 3D upgrade looks pretty good here and there are only one or two weird glitches with the retro fitting. In fact, all of the wider establishing shots look fantastic and the 3D gives the landscapes and castle interiors an added element of depth that really adds to the picture.
Beauty and the Beast is worth checking out during its limited 3D run as the up conversion adds enough to the picture to make it worthwhile. Even more worth the trip is getting to see this gorgeous animated film back on the big screen and I am ecstatic that Disney hopes to roll out some of their classics in theaters bi-annually in the years ahead. I missed The Lion King last year, but I won’t be missing any of the Disney re-releases from here on out; well done.
Beauty and the Beast 3D is a B+