Beauty and the Beast 3D
Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Roger Allers, Linda Wolverton, Brenda Chapman, Burny Mattinson, Brian Pimental, Joe Ranft, Kelly Asbury, Chris Sanders, Kevin Harkey, Bruce Woodside, Tom Ellery, Robert Lence
Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Bradley Pierce, Rex Everhart, Jesse Corti, Hal Smith, Jo Anne Worley, Mary Kay Bergman, Brian Cummings, Tony Jay, Kimmy Robertson, Frank Welker, Kath Soucie, Alec Murphy, Alvin Epstein
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With all that James Cameron was able to accomplish with 3D, the spate of post-converted 3D pseudo-spectacles have been a lackluster bunch. The same can be said of Disney’s poorly adapted animated film Beauty and the Beast, which thankfully has not lost any of its thematic splendor.
The story is age-old, that of a spoiled prince, cursed by an evil witch for rebuking her haggard appearance and offer of a rose. The rose, a symbol of his will continue to bloom until his 21st birthday. If he is not able to love and be loved in return despite his beastly appearance, he will be permanently encased in his grotesque form. A headstrong inventor’s daughter, having caught the eye of the town jerk, finds something in the beast to love and they will, as always, live happily ever after.
The music, the laughter, the characters, the fun. It’s all still there. The film hasn’t changed in the 21 years since its initial release (though, I would have loved to see the deleted scene for “Human Again” pop up in this production). Sharing a common birthday with its male protagonist, it seems a fitting year to re-release the film; however, after the successful box office take of another Disney animated classic, The Lion King, Disney thought that its first animated Best Picture nominee deserved a similar 3D conversion treatment.
The beast that is 3D claims yet another victim. Apart from a beautiful opening and a few neat deeply-focused scenes, the film feels immensely flat, trapped in a series of panel layers, stretched into three dimensions. When animated films were still in their hand-drawn phase, from the amazing debut of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 to the fading art form of the 1990s (of which Beauty and the Beast was the first and most significant bridge to computer-aided animation), many scenes were captured on stacked layers of celluloid so that each layer could be moved independently, creating a type of depth and movement individual-cell work would have made painstaking. With the characters acting in a mid-ground plane, the feeling of depth was astounding. These are the layers that are given depth, but making every scene feel like a series of flat planes in mulit-plane space instead of the seemless depth more easily attained through standard CGI and computer animation.
Disney is in the process of, and will be releasing later this year, one of their biggest box office hits Finding Nemo in a post-converted 3D. Since that film was done by computer animation, there’s little doubt that it will pop off the screen in a way Beauty and the Beast cannot. Perhaps the classic, predominantly hand-drawn creations of Disney’s canon should be left as they are. 3D doesn’t need to be applied to everything in order to bleed money from passionate moviegoers.
I went into Beauty and the Beast mostly to see how the 3D conversion was carried out, but part of me wanted to relive my childhood when films like this were still box office gold. And while I still think the film itself is a 4-star epic spectacle, a magical event. The 3D conversion tooks away so much of the visual pizazz that it diminishes the film in tandem, which is a shame. Let’s hope Disney can leave it there and focus its 3D efforts on Pixar’s productions, which are more easily fitted to this hopefully passing fad. That is if they are going to continue to persist in such cash grabs. Otherwise, I’d say just leave everything alone. If it was good enough before, it doesn’t need anything extra.
June 25, 2012