Saturday, February 23, 2013

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Everything
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Beautiful artwork
Tells a wonderful story
I will always love

This Tale as Old as Time is My Favorite Disney Movie

Belle is bored with life in her village. Her only escape is her books, and she longs to have an adventure of her own. When her father heads out to a fair, he gets lots, and Belle finds him in an enchanted castle. The objects are thrilled, because if she and their master, the Beast, fall in love, they will all be freed from the enchantment. But will Belle be able to see past the outward appearance? Is there anything left in the Beast's heart to love? And what about Gaston, the handsome bore back home who wants to marry Belle?

I feel in love with this movie the first time I saw it, and that love has only grown over the years. The story is the right mix of fun and uncertainty. While most of the story is fairly predictable, villain Gaston was a wonderful addition to the mix because his story was the part I was most uncertain about the first time around. The characters are also likable, with the enchanted objects stealing the show. Beast starts out fairly unlikable but quickly gains our sympathy. Even the villains fall into the love to hate category. The artwork on the film catches your eye from the first shot of the castle, and doesn't let go. Beside the incredible background shots are wonderful drawings of the characters. I especially love the boyish excitement they manage to give the Beast in several scenes. Finally, there's the music. Every song adds to the story and is memorable in its own right.

This DVD is perfect for any fan of this movie. Disc 1 includes three versions of the film. The first is the "in progress" version shown to the New York film festival 6 weeks before the premier of the movie in 1991. The picture was in various stages of completion, with parts as shown in the movie and parts only done in pencil outline. While it's fun to have, I won't be watching it regularly. The second version is the original release. And finally comes the special edition, with an added scene and "Human Again." Ironically, this is probably my least favorite of the songs added to the Broadway version, but it does advance the story. And, there's always the option of watching the original version. Obviously, the version that you are supposed to watch is the special edition, as the audio commentary and sing along bonus features only work with this option. All three come in Dolby 5.1 sound, which sounds great and the picture on both the complete editions is outstanding.

The second disc features hours of bonus material. Most of it focuses on the making of this movie. Everything is covered, from original idea through characters to the Broadway version and making the special edition. Galleries show character designs over the course of the project. Also featured are the original treatments for "Human Again" and "Be Our Guest." Celebrities who have been voices in Disney animated movies give background on the original story and Disney versions of several classic tales. And there's a fun documentary as the stars of "Even Stevens" take a backstage look at all the work that goes into making a feature animated film.

Beauty and the Beast is the only animated film so far to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. Watching the film, the reason is clear. This is something the entire family can enjoy. Don't miss your opportunity to catch this classic film.

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