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Beauty and the Beast 3-D
Beauty and the Beast
Directors: Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale
Writers: Linda Woolverton, Brenda Chapman, Burny Mattinson, Brian Pimental, Joe Ranft, Kelly Asbury, Christopher Sanders, Kevin Harkey, Bruce Woodside, Tom Ellery, Robert Lence, John Sanford
Voice Cast: Paige O' Hara, Robby Benson, Rex Everhart, Richard White, Jesse Corti, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Bradley Pierce, Hal Smith, Jo Anne Worley, Mary Kay Bergman, Brian Cummins, Alvin Epstein, Tony Jay, Alec Murphy, Kimmy Robertson, Kath Soucie, Frank Welker
Synopsis: Belle is a bright and beautiful young woman who's taken prisoner by a hideous beast in his castle. Despite her precarious situation, Belle befriends the castle's enchanted staff -- a teapot, a candelabra and a mantel clock, among others -- and ultimately learns to see beneath the Beast's exterior to discover the heart and soul of a prince.
MPAA Rating: G
Be Our Guest
A Tale As Old As Time
A tale as old as time....
As I said in my review of "The Lion King", there are some classics that only get better with age, and "Beauty and the Beast" is definitely one of those movies. Over the years, I never really cared much for the cliched archetypes of the whole "love at first sight" nonsense that was preached in many early Disney films. Don't get me wrong, I understand there are some people out there that believe such a notion exists, and who am I say to say they're wrong? After all, love isn't an exact science. However, in context to films, the whole "love at first sight" notion comes off as a lazy cheap writing device that most writers use, as a cheap means of telling a coherent story between the two love interests rather than actually taking the time to develop their relationship properly.
Again, I'm not here to judge anyone that buys into such logic, but in many Disney films, the princesses don't even share a word of dialogue with their alleged "Prince Charming"; while other times they do share a brief word of dialogue, but it barely lasts for maybe about a few mintutes, yet the audience is expected to believe they're in love because it's a cartoon, and we're not supposed to look at it too seriously. However, is that really a good excuse? Granted, you can't expect works of Shakespeare in a freaking Disney animated feature, but is it really too much to ask for some degree of effort in telling a story? Is it really too much to ask for the animators to at least try to put forth some effort in fleshing out the relationships of the characters?
Of course, this is also why "Beauty and the Beast" ranks as arguably the best love story that Disney ever produced. Not only did the film actually take it's time to develop the characters individually, but it also took the time to build up to the romance between Beast and Belle. In fact, one of the most clever aspects to this film is that it somehow manages to remain vague on how long exactly Belle was locked away with the Beast. Needless to say, this not only allowed the audience to see the characters getting to know each other more intimately, but it also made it easier for many skeptics to buy into their romance; versus just telling ourselves that it's just a cartoon, and you have to accept it for what it is.
No, this film is far too clever for that cheap logic, yet it still embraces all the same fairy tale themes that Disney likes to promote in all it's films. In fact, one could argue that "Beauty and the Beast" is the perfected fairy tale story that they've been striving to achieve for years. Not only did each character present a unique personality all their own, but when you see Belle and Beast start to fall for each other, you genuinely buy into it because it feels very authentic and believable; which is more than I could say about some of Disney's earlier animated love stories, where we're just expected to buy into it because...it's a cartoon...
Plus, where would a Disney film be without a great villain? Throughout Disney's animation history, they've always been known to come up with very memorable villains in most of their cartoon films. In some of their animated features, the villains have even been known to steal the show from the protagonists themselves. Such villains that come to mind are those like the evil Queen from "Snow White" and Malificient from "Sleeping Beauty", for example. However, when it comes to "Beauty and the Beast", it seems to have gotten down everything that Disney usually strives for in an animated love story, and plays on it to perfection.
Gaston might have been the hero in any previous Disney film, as he was introduced in the film as the town hero, who was not only the best looking man in the village, but he was also deemed the bravest allegedly. In fact, the whole notion of his love for Belle resides in the ideal that he thinks she's the prettiest girl that he's ever seen, while knowing very little about her. I know some will ask how is that bad, but let me ask you this. How does Gaston's motive for being in love with Belle any different from Prince Charming's motivation to be in love with Cinderella, in "Cinderella?" After all, Prince Charming knows next to nothing about Cinderella at all, yet he's instantly in love with her because he thinks she's the prettiest girl in the world. Sound familiar? Again, this is another thing that works so well for this film, as it's the irony of the situation. If you stop to think about it, Gaston isn't all that much different from Prince Charming in many other Disney films; hence he would've been the hero in any other Disney animated movie.
However, the key difference between Gaston and Prince Charming is merely the methods they go about attaining their alleged love interests. Unlike Charming who was portrayed as something of a "Mr. Perfect" type figure, Gaston isn't all he makes himself out to be. Behind his rugged handsome exterior, he's really a vain, narcissistic and highly jealous individual who isn't used to not getting his way. This not only serves as a great motivation for the audience to buy into his character, but it also makes for a great narrative story. The audience sees right away that Gaston is ugly on the inside, as we soon see that he's nothing more than an opportunistic over jealous jerk that's willing to kill anyone that gets in his way; which is one of the reasons why Belle never falls for him, as she can immediately see the ugliness that lurks in his heart.
For these reasons, I would have to say Gaston is a great Disney villain that not only displays the irony of many Disney "Prince Charming" figures over the years, but his character blends in perfectly with the film's underlining themes about inner beauty being the most important thing about a person. Yes, I'm aware that Gaston was not a prince in this movie, but I was merely trying to prove a point, with the "Prince Charming" reference. In this film, the underlining message is that it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside, as inner beauty is all that should matter about a person.
I won't bother delving too much into the story, as I'm sure many readers have seen this film before. However, for those who haven't, I'll try to be brief. The movie is based off the popular fairy tale about a young girl who falls in love with a Beast, during what looks like the French monarchial era. At the beginning of the film, Beast was portrayed as an arrogant Prince, who shunned away an old woman because she wasn't physically attractive in his eyes. However, she immediately turns into a beautiful enchantress after the Prince's harsh actions, and punishes him for his cruelty and inability to see the inner beauty in others, by turning him into a hideous beast; while changing his servants into household objects like clocks, candles and etc. This brief scene not only acts as a strong catalyst to enhance the fairy tale element of this film, but it also acts as a strong metaphor for inner beauty itself.
As the story plays out, we see a young girl named Belle, who's a bit of a bookworm. Although everyone deems her to be the most beautiful girl in town, they also think of her as being rather odd because, unlike most women of that time, she has bigger aspirations in life than being reduced to the role of mere housewife to a jerk like Gaston. No, what she wants in the movie is something so much more. Something that's arguably bigger than what she can comprehend, and wishes to learn more about the world itself, as she buries her nose in books. Unlike the other women of this town, she's not fooled by Gaston's rugged features, as she sees him as the pig headed arrogant fool that he really is; which only makes her an even more of an interesting character to follow. In fact, she doesn't give a damn what anyone thinks about her, or her father either, as most of the town deems him to be a bit touched in the head.
Unfortunately, as internet celebrity, Doug Walker aka Nostalgia Critic, pointed out in his review of this movie, some have argued this also part of the problem with Belle in that she's too perfect. Granted, I'll be the first to admit that Belle may be too good of a character to be true, and I can easily see how some could argue that she's a stereotypical role model type character, but is that a bad thing? Just because a character doesn't have any flaws, it doesn't make them a bad character to base a film around.
Take a character like Superman for instance. One could say that he's too perfect because he's not only handsome, but he always does the right thing, never lies, and he's always willing to put the needs of others over his own ambitions. However, in context to Superman's stories, that kind of character archetype works perfectly for the type of stories he's featured in, as it's a classic battle of good vs. evil. Superman is a beacon of hope for humanity that we all strive to be like, so his morally just character is perfect, in context to his stories. As for what does this have to do with "Beauty and the Beast", I'll get into that now.
Yes, Belle is perfect in every fathomable way, as she's not only beautiful, but she respects her father, she's smart, she puts the needs of others before her own, she doesn't care about what others think about her, and she isn't afraid to stand up for herself either. Indeed, we all see that. However, with the type of story that Disney was going for here, she fits in perfectly when you stop to think about it. Her rare combination of having both internal and external beauty is great in conveying that not all attractive people are jerks, like Gaston and the bar keeper's daughters.
Plus, her noble sacrifice of offering herself as prisoner to the Beast, in exchange for her father's freedom, only allows the audience to feel even more empathy for her character. And lets not forget, if she had been too scared to stand up to the Beast whenever they got into arguments, then it would've only made the Beast look like nothing more than an uncaring jerk. Granted, she did show signs of being scared of him during certain moments, but she certainly didn't take a lot of his crap either; which only served as even more of a catalyst for the Beast to eventually warm up to her over time. As I said before, Belle is perfect, as I fail to see anything remotely wrong about her, but in context to the film's story line, she fits in like a glove.
To get back to the rest of the story. Belle's father is kidnapped by the Beast, due to a misunderstanding, and Belle offers herself in exchange for her father's freedom. It's from here, Beast uses this opportunity to make try to make her fall in love with him, as it's the only way to break his curse. Unfortunately, it's easier said than done considering that he's keeping her there against her will. However, once Beast saves her life, they gradually start to open up to each other, and that's where the romance between them blossoms. Sadly, this aspect of the story has sparked many skeptics to say this film adamantly condones "Stockholm Syndrome."
For those that don't know what that is, Webster's dictionary defines "Stockholm Syndrome" as a psychological tendency to bond and/or sympathize with one's kidnapper(s). According to some studies, a victim that gets kidnapped mistakes their captor's lack of physical and/or emotional harm as a form of kindness, as they begin to harbor feelings for them over time. In other cases, some of the victims have even gone on record to defend their captor's actions, even though the captor held the victim against his/her will in the first place. Granted, I can definitely see how one could say this film condones "Stockholm Syndrome", but would I agree with that assessment completely?
Definitely not because in the end, it's just a Disney animated feature geared to children and families, with the underlying message that inner beauty is all that matters in a person. Sure, we can read more into it if we want, but does that really negate how great of a love story this is? After all, one could point out how the romance in "Aladdin", "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Cinderella", and "Little Mermaid" were arguably even more controversial than the one portrayed in this movie. However, that's another topic to discuss at another time.
As for the rest of the film, what can I say? It's very well put together. The songs are catchy and memorable, as one would expect from a Disney animated musical. The supporting characters in this film are both funny, and engaging without ever being annoying. The pacing of the film is very well done, and the animation is nothing short of breathtaking.
Unfortunately, the 3D cinematography isn't that great in this film. Therefore, if you already own a copy of this movie on Blue Ray/DVD, then I'd probably just settle to watch it at home instead, as the 3D aspect is barely noticeable. However, if you do decide to see it anyway in 3D, then I highly recommend getting to the theater early. Why? Because before the 3D showing, there's an animated short called "Tangled Ever After", which features the characters from the recent Disney hit, "Tangled." The short film serves as sort of a sequel to the popular film, and it's shot entirely in 3D.
In the short film, Rapunzel and Flynn are about to get married. Everyone looks happy at the wedding reception, and the white horse and Rapunzel's pet gecko act as the ring barrers. Due to a series of unfortunate events, they lose the rings, and the rest of the animated short is basically about them getting the rings back before the wedding ceremony is over. The opening cartoon isn't that long, but it's well worth seeing. Unfortunately, it means that parents will have to pay to see a movie that isn't converted too well into 3D to see it, but if you do decide to see "Beauty and the Beast" in 3D, then "Tangled Forever After" more than makes up for it in that aspect.
Overall, I would still give this film a four out of four. Granted, the 3-D cinematography isn't that great, but it's like I always say when it comes to 3D films in general. If the movie is good, then it won't matter if the 3D aspect of it is great or not, as that's not what makes a film good. Granted, visuals do help, but in the end, it's really all about the story, and how well it's told on screen, as that's all that should matter. And for what "Beauty and the Beast" happens to be, it's arguably one of the best love stories ever told on screen, and it's certainly one of Disney's best films out there.