Aiming to take a load off my awards-addled mind – something I recommend everyone do this time of year – I spent the afternoon taking in the 3D resurrection of an old favourite. Springboarding from the surprisingly profitable release of The Lion King last fall, Disney is giving their timeless musical romance Beauty and the Beast the same treatment in hopes of drawing in audiences over less-than-compelling January fare.
The 3D itself, I could've done without. While it is used strikingly at moments (namely the signature ballroom scene, the hauntingly claustrophobic West Wing sequence, and the picturesque hilltop reprise of "Belle"), most of the time it's little more than a distraction. The only memorable application of the technology came during the end credits, which were superimposed over top of lovely penciled character sketches which had previously been gathering dust in the animators' vault. At its worst, the 3D awkwardly isolates the characters' physical features or downgrades the painterly quality of the original artwork to quaint pop-up book images.
The power of nostalgia can't be underestimated. Seeing this childhood staple on the big screen for the first time in two decades should indeed prove a special experience for longtime fans, as it did for me. Newcomers are no doubt in for a treat. Perhaps the most gratifying highlight of the show was hearing the robust applause from a relatively sparse matinee audience that sounded upon the film's conclusion. I can only echo the sentiment: "Love it."
**** out of ****