Sometimes, it feels like I complain about 3-D movies a lot during reviews, but then I realize that most of the 3-D films these days are geared towards children. And since I work most of the kiddie shift around here, that equates to a disproportionate amount of wearing crappy glasses. So it makes sense that, to me, the gimmick has already been wearing thin for at least a few years now. The novelty of an added dimension is over. Now Hollywood, let’s get back to writing some original stories, shall we?
If that isn’t too much to ask …
Of course, today’s selection just happens to be the very worst kind of 3-D offering, which is both the post-production conversion variety and a re-release of an older, semi-classic Disney flick that’s only back in theaters to make a bunch of extra money. In that way, Beauty and the Beast 3-D has much in common with the recent re-release of The Lion King.
Yet I’m willing to focus on the positives for at least a few moments. Back in 1991, the tale of Belle and her titular Beast was the first animated film to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination. It’s remembered quite fondly and still plays regularly and even on repeat in child-inhabited houses everywhere.
Once again, the story stays the same and will be familiar even amongst those (and I’m sure there’s still a few) who’ve never actually watched Beauty and the Beast in its original form, but here’s a rundown anyway. The Beast (Robby Benson) is a formerly handsome prince who has been transformed into an ugly, hairy monster by a vengeful sorceress. He must stay in that form until he falls in love with a beautiful (in terms of inner self) girl, but the spell shall not be broken unless she loves him in return as well. Enter the gloriously bookish Belle (Paige O’Hara), who stumbles upon the Beast’s castle one day while looking for her errant father. Initially, Belle finds herself as a captive of the Beast, but we all know how the story ends.
Naturally, the tale is quite a charming one and features a supporting cast of likeable domestic objects that just happen to be sentient: Lumiere the candlestick (Jerry Orbach); Cogsworth the clock (David Ogden Stiers); and Mrs. Potts the fetching cockney teapot (Angela Lansbury) are the real runaway stars of the film. The production numbers (in particular, “Be Our Guest”) are still a pleasure, and Belle herself falls along the most “feminist” characters ever put to screen by Disney. The only real letdown is the Beast himself, who isn’t so much a monster as a crotchety bison.
Mostly, watching Beauty and the Beast 3D is merely reliving the original experience, and it isn’t a bad one by any stretch. In fact, any young (or grown) child very rarely has a problem sitting through the same beloved movie countless times. It’s just a shame that the unserviceable post-production 3-D conversion has mucked up the lovely hand-drawn animation of the original film. Indeed, the effect is rather unsettling because the settings and backgrounds are given the extra dimension of depth while Belle and her fellow characters float on top in what still looks like 2-D.
Fortunately, there’s at least something new that’s offered with this re-release; that is, a short called Tangled Ever After that functions as an wedding-oriented followup to Pixar’s 2010 Tangled. Otherwise, if you enjoyed Beauty and the Beast and have absolutely nothing better to do with your time and money, you’ll probably be okay with this 3-D reissue, but it’s not worth a big fuss by any stretch.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.