Movie Review: Beauty And The Beast 3D

Disney knows exactly how to make an extra few million, and I know exactly how to help them out.

Much like The Lion King re-release, I found that I enjoyed the movie a good deal more now as an adult than I did as a child. The details stuck out more, the little bits of humor caught my attention more easily, and at no point did I feel bored and wander off to play video games.

The transition to 3D was once again handled well, though I wonder if it was actually as well done as it was with The Lion King 3D. I suspect the dissonance has a lot to do with the significantly different art style that Beauty And The Beast has. While The Lion King prided (ha!) itself on the stunning detail and realism of their landscapes and talking animals (lions with thumbs aside), everything about Beauty And The Beast is like a painting or tapestry.  While they are marvels of animation that we really won’t get to experience ever again, seeing the characters pop out from the scenery led to a different sort of feel than The Lion King 3D.

Beauty And The Beast is very much a Disney film. You have your “princess”, who is beautiful but doesn’t fit in to her society’s expectations and wants more out of life than what she would get if she just stuck to everyone else wants, then she meets her “prince” (often actually royalty), conflict happens, and eventually they live happily ever after. There is, however, one important difference in Beauty And The Beast that sets is apart from its peers; the prince.

With apologies, Belle just isn’t that compelling of a character. She loves her father and books, and isn’t superficial. That’s basically all there is to her. The only growth she undergoes throughout the movie is she maybe becomes a little more bold, but even that is a stretch. Despite what the dolls and marketing may tell you, I would say that the movie isn’t really about her at all. Much like Aladdin, the real main character is the male lead.

The Beast is the character who undergoes the most radical transformation by far; from a brooding selfish monster to the kind and caring soul that can win the love of our not-superficial princess. He is also easily the most compelling. Rare is the Disney film where we see a character so complex and conflicted, since he’s not just an angry lout but also clearly self-loathing and deeply depressed. Nor is he quickly fixed by just picking himself up by the bootstraps; it is only through the constant prodding of his servants that he starts to make any changes to his behavior and let his guard down long enough to be something more noble than a beast. But when he lets Belle go free, he snaps back into his depression, convinced that he’s not only lost his once chance at humanity, but more importantly that he has lost Belle. I get the feeling that despite Disney’s insistence at the happily ever after, these bouts of depression and doubt are going to haunt the Beast-turned-Prince for years to come.

The obvious inversion of The Beast is Gaston, who despite his handsome exterior is little more than a dim-witted thug, who we see become more vile and monstrous over the same progression that we see the Beast become more human. It’s simplistic, but I appreciate things like this in stories.

I suppose it is fairly obvious that I identify strongly with The Beast, though mostly in the negative attributes. Here’s hoping I can become human without locking a princess away in my castle.

All in all, Beauty And The Beast is a great, though simplistic, movie and a shoe-in for anyone who likes Disney, romance, or monsters with character development. You should probably go see it while it is in theaters.

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