Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ 3-D

An Active 3-D review of the Ster-Kinekor 3-D Blu-ray release.

[An expansion of my review that appeared in the Johannesburg Saturday Star newspaper:]

Movie: *****

Disc set: *** 

“Allow me to waltz you around my newly dimensionalised library…”

The suits who run the show over at Disney are seldom afraid of recycling product, and this fine film has certainly done the rounds, having appeared in standard cinemas, on home video (in numerous formats), and on IMAX screens. Now, with the entrenchment of Digital 3-D on the theatrical scene, the studio’s taken to converting some of their older releases to 3-D for re-release. This movie recently opened on the 3-D cinema circuit in the States, but the option to do so locally was dropped – which is where this 3-D Blu-ray edition really comes into its own.

The story is a jazzed-up version of the original tale by 17th century French author Charles Perrault, and tells of a beautiful young lady who is held captive by a hideous creature, and who learns, in the course of her stay, to recognise the real, inner beauty of others, regardless of their external appearance. Apart from the extra characters that were created to flesh out the story for a feature-length movie, the tale was turned into a musical; and one that was good enough to be parlayed into a hit Broadway musical. Does it work in 3-D? In stiller scenes which involve lots of foreground and background interest, the 3-D is breathtaking. I found the faster-moving sequences not terribly easy on the eye, however. The original film used a mix of traditional 2-D animation and computer-generated backgrounds, and the 3-D process somehow heightens their differentness…

Extras: Some interesting featurettes, including a chat with the composer of the songs, Alan Menken, and a ‘story reel’ of the original visualisation of the first third of the film – which is worlds apart from the finished product. We also get four versions of the film to watch: the original 1991 cinema release, the same version with accompanying behind-the-scenes videos shown “picture-in-picture”, a slightly longer re-release cut, and – obviously – the 3-D edition. Sadly, this boxset still falls a flat in the bonus features department. Given the vast capacity of Blu-ray discs, one would expect Blu-ray releases to carry forward all bonus features from previous DVD releases. This carries some, but not all.

Also, the bonus disc promises the fascinating behind-the-scenes featurette called ‘Beyond Beauty’ (I’ve seen it on DVD) plus another extra or so, on some other “Disc Two” which doesn’t exist. It turns out that this bonus disc is nicked from the two-disc 2-D Blu-ray edition, in which it is Disc One… (Still with me?) A disappointing rush-job, which one doesn’t expect from a normally-meticulous studio such as Disney.

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