Review: Beauty and the Beast 3D
PLOT: When a beautiful woman named Belle finds her father held captive by a monstrous beast, she pleads to the captor to take her instead. When the unwelcoming host agrees, Belle finds that beneath the brute’s terrifying guise, there is the heart and soul of a gentleman. Will love blossom, or will he forever be the monster he was cursed to be? It is Disney so it’s a safe bet things will end pretty well.
A tale as old as time, well this particular one is at least as old as 1991 – that was the year Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST found critical and commercial success. The story of an unlikely romance filled with magic was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards; it also took home two Oscars’ including Best Song and Best Original Score for Alan Menken. It was an incredible success for Walt Disney and it is still a much beloved classic for all generations, one which has aged slightly with time. But of course it is going to get a fancy new bow in the form of a 3D re-release.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 3D is a sweepingly romantic tale. The story revolves around Belle (Paige O’Hara), a beautiful yet bookish girl who finds herself in an adventure much like the novels she always reads. When her father treks off to sell his new invention, his horse is startled while traveling through a spooky forest. Frightened, he seeks shelter in a dark and forbidden castle. There he is captured by a monstrous beast (Robby Benson), snarling and angry at the unfortunate intruder. Belle soon realizes something is wrong when she finds her father’s trusty steed running from the foreboding forest. When she comes to look for dear old dad and finds him imprisoned, she begs for the Beast to take her captive instead. He accepts. Because we of course know that this vicious fiend is an enchanted prince looking to break the spell he is under. Unless somebody falls in love with his frightening exterior, he will forever remain cursed.
As dark as this story could have been, let us not forget that this is Walt Disney. Thus, the film features an array of colorful characters to lighten the mood. This includes Mrs. Potts (Angela Lansbury) who is actually a talking tea pot and Lumiere (Jerry Orbach) a suave candelabra. The impressive voice talent also offers up Richard White as the film’s villainous and vain Gaston, David Ogden Stiers as a clock named Cogsworth and many more impressive performances.
Probably the most memorable aspect of this elegant romantic fable is the music. Each musical number - written by Menken - completes the magical world for which it exists in. Two of the finest would most certainly be the lavish and bouncy “Be Our Guest” sung by Orbach. It is impossibly catchy as an eye-popping array of dancing plates and other fanciful dinner guests perform for Belle, hoping to make her stay a little more comfortable. And of course, the Academy Award winning title track sung by Lansbury offers a sure sign of romance between the Beauty and her Beast. This tune was also a massive radio hit courtesy of Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson.
Already a beautifully drawn feature, the 3D element merely enhances a few moments here or there. The red roses blossoming on their thorny vines, stretching out past the cinema screen is one of the few instances where it was worth sporting the glasses. As for the film, the use of color, the music and story itself would warrant a re-release. Although there are a few elements that certainly don’t feel as heartfelt as they once did. The humor sometimes lacks some of the timelessness as most of the film achieves, especially coming from the inferior villain Gaston (Richard White). While White’s performance is terrific, the character itself is ultimately basic and bland.
Really, the 3D wasn’t necessary to re-release this classic tale – it would have made a terrific date for the whole family without the glasses – yet it still holds up nicely as a magical animated fable. It is made even more special by the inclusion of the short TANGLED EVER AFTER. While TANGLED settles for guffaws much more quickly than BEAUTY, it is hilariously delightful. The goofy charm is also aided by the strong characters created in the original film. Both TANGLED EVER AFTER and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST are sure to enthrall audiences everywhere, even if the 3D doesn’t really add much of anything to this animated classic.