I’ve always loved animation – make that, good animation – and feel lucky that my kids were the perfect age when Disney had its second golden age of animation in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
My son was 4 when I took him to see 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast” – and when it came out on home video, it quickly entered the hot rotation in the family VCR. It was the first animated film ever nominated for the Oscars’ Best Picture category and wound up sweeping the music categories (it had three nominations for best song). If there had been an Academy Award for animated feature, it would have won that, too.
So I’m of a divided mind about the new 3D conversion of “Beauty and the Beast.” Granted, in the days before home theaters and streaming video, Disney regularly revived their animated features for theatrical release, thinking rightly that a new generation of potential movie-goers sprouted up on a regular basis, to whom something like “Pinocchio” or “Lady and the Tramp” was brand new. Now, parents would just say, “Hey, I can buy it on DVD for cheaper than the price of tickets and popcorn at the theater.”
While I’m happy that kids will get the chance to see this wonderful film on a big screen, it comes from this crassly commercial ploy: the 3D conversion, which will force families to ante up an extra $3-$5 per ticket for the privilege of wearing glasses in a theater.
The 3D does nothing to enhance what was pretty much a perfect film to start with. And yet, given the reality of the theatrical-vs.-home video situation today, it’s probably the only way kids would get the chance to see a Disney classic on a big screen.
The 3D conversion of “Beauty and the Beast” otherwise does nothing to enhance the film, though nothing to hurt it. This film was released four years before “Toy Story” changed animation forever. In fact, “Beauty and the Beast” was one of the first animated features to include some early computer-animated sequences – some of the animation in “Be Our Guest” and the elaborate ballroom setting for the title song.
Otherwise, this was Disney hand-drawn animation at its peak. In 3D, however, the effect is a little like looking at a bad ViewMaster slide. While the 3D lends significant depth of field to the settings, the characters themselves are distinctly two-dimensional. They are moving in three dimensions but they look flat – drawn, as it were – while acting out the story.
This review continues on my website.