Media FX Review of
Beauty and the Beast Special Edition (IMAX)
by Joe Tracy, publisher of Digital Media FX Magazine
to the chase.
and the Beast Special Edition is absolutely amazing and a
good reminder as to why the movie was given a "Best Picture"
Oscar nomination for its 1991 original release. Beauty and
the Beast is a gem. So is the IMAX release where the two years
of work Disney put into restoring the movie shows on screen.
Beauty and the Beast is a great movie because it perfectly
executes in a number of key areas:
It contains a great romance story.
2) The humor is well executed.
3) It has a solid drama foundation.
4) The villain is unique and unlike any past Disney
5) The songs are outstanding.
first announced that it was releasing Beauty and the Beast
to IMAX screens, I was very skeptical. The only visions we had
been given of Disney's rerelease work on IMAX was "The Sorcerer's
Apprentice" segment of Fantasia 2000, which quite
frankly did not look that good when "blown up". I questioned
(even publicly) whether the IMAX release was a good idea for Beauty
and the Beast.
Beauty and the Beast on IMAX, I'm now sold on the fact that future
Disney rereleases to IMAX (which include The Lion King, The
Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and others) is an excellent venue
for these films. The digital restoration is executed with a precision
that shines. The sound, particularly the base, adds a new dimension
to the experience. Now if only the IMAX seats were a little more
So now that
the controversy as to whether Disney could restore its slate of
digitally stored animated movies to IMAX is solved, let's turn
to the second controversy - Human Again.
There's a reason that the "Human Again" song was not
a part of the original Beauty and the Beast - it didn't
quite fit. Here was the problem in Disney's own words:
song posed story problems which couldn't be solved in a timely
manner. Originally conceived as an 11-minute musical number, the
song was ultimately replaced with the shorter and more direct
So what was
the inspiration in including this song in the rerelease of this
Disney classic? Here it is in producer Don Hahn's own words:
four years ago, Kirk and Gary and I were sitting around talking
about the Star Wars Special Edition that had just come
out and Kirk jokingly suggested, 'wouldn't it be fun to do a special
edition of Beauty with Human Again or new material in it?'
When the head of Feature Animation said he thought it was a great
idea, we stopped joking and began thinking about how we could
actually do it. We had storyboarded the sequence for the original
production, but completely reworked it for this special edition
of the film."
be the first public performance/viewing of the song as it had
been incorporated into Disney's theatrical Broadway production
of Beauty and the Beast with great success. But why tamper with
perfection? Was it a good idea to include it in the Special Edition?
The answer is "yes" and "no."
The song "Human
Again" begins shortly after the "Something There"
song. The premise is that Cogsworth wants to create a more romantic
setting for Belle and Beast to "rush things along" so
that they fall in love before the last rose pedal falls. The group
of enchanted items launch into a song dreaming of what it would
be like to be human again (no they don't change into humans during
the song). In addition to the main enchanted characters, the song
includes a cast of additional enchanted objects.
the original Beauty and the Beast 47 times (mostly in theaters
during the original release) I must admit it is quite odd to suddenly
see new footage. The first half of the song (including the intro
to it) seem a bit weak, yet it got better as the song continued.
Then, three-fourths the way through the song there is a scene
where Belle is teaching Beast to read. This single sequence, albiet
short, deepened the story and the relationship issue. It is definitely
an excellent addition to the movie.
I'm not sold
that the "Human Again" song needed to be added to the
IMAX version of Beauty and the Beast, but I respect the
decision of the film's artists to add it. I also must admit that
it was quite interesting to have something "new" to
see. But at the same time, "Human Again" almost makes
it feel like there is "one too many" songs in this classic,
particularly coming so soon after "Something There."
I think the movie would have been perfect if the "learning
to read" scene had been added without the song. Yet I'm also
reserved to the fact that multiple viewings of the IMAX version
(no, not another 47 times) could alter that opinion.
Pros and Cons
Beauty and the Beast is huge on the IMAX screen. After
the initial narration, I received a chill down my spine as the
camera panned past the trees because it felt like I was there.
The IMAX version nearly puts you in the movie because of its sheer
size. Then when the first clasp of thunder is heard and the base
rumbles your seat, the experience suddenly takes on a whole new
dimension. When Beast roars, you feel the roar. When the
thunder crashes, you feel surrounded by by its majestic
pro to the IMAX release is that you can better study the scenes
and will often find yourself moving your head to focus on different
elements. This isn't a small TV screen and you'll find your eyes
often wandering to different parts of the screen to "take
it all in".
is "perfect" in this mega large version of Beauty
and the Beast. For example, there is a slight "shimmering"
effect on the stained glass windows in the opening and closing
narrations. The shimmering is so slight, however, that you may
not even notice it; thus it is a minor issue. The other small
problem is that the background art is huge and as a result it
doesn't look/feel as "real" for the settings as in the
widescreen version. But again, this is only a minor issue that
comes as a natural result of making the movie bigger. And in the
case of Beauty and the Beast, bigger is better.
Beauty and the Beast is one of the finest movies ever put
out by the Disney Empire. It is unique in many aspects. Take,
for example, how two of the main characters grow in opposite directions.
Gaston starts out as a harmless person who is conceited and obsessed
with his looks. Yet as the movie progresses you see more of the
villain in Gaston come out. He's no longer harmless. Now look
at the Beast. He's clearly a "villain" at the beginning
of the movie and yet he grows in the opposite direction of Gaston,
learning respect, love, caring, and honor. Both characters are
transformed in opposite directions throughout the film.
I tip my hat
to the crew and artists that worked on the IMAX rerelease of Beauty
and the Beast. This is one "tale as old as time"
that is worth a second viewing in this new format. I highly recommend
seeing it in the IMAX theater and applaud Disney for the care
it took in helping it remain a masterpiece.
FX gives the Beauty and the Beast Special Edition (IMAX)
a 10 out of 10 rating, the highest possible on the dFX Movie Meter.
The minor problems are easily overshadowed by the enhanced experience
and there's no doubt that millions of people will be just as enchanted
with this classic.
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