Beauty and the Beast 3D (2012)

It's a tale as old as time (or as old as 1991, anyway): Beauty and the Beast, now back on the big screen in Disney Digital 3D. I used to own the film on VHS (and here's where I lose the young ones ...), but I hadn't seen Beauty and the Beast in quite some time. It was nice to see it back in theaters, although I'm not sure if the 3D added much; it was good in some scenes, but a little shaky in others.

The plot, for those of you that don't know it: Belle (voiced by Paige O'Hara) lives a "provincial life" with her inventor father, Maurice (Rex Everhart), and is an avid reader. However, the most handsome man in town, Gaston (Richard White), wants her as his wife, and he will stop at nothing to have her. On the way to an inventor's fair, Belle's father gets lost in the woods, and he ends up at the Beast's castle. The enchanted fixtures there welcome him in, but the Beast (Robby Benson) is not as hospitable; he throws him in the tower, not caring about his well-being. When Belle goes to find her father, she offers herself to the Beast as a trade, so that Maurice may go free. The Beast agrees and Belle must be his prisoner, and live in the enchanted castle, for the rest of her life.

Although the Beast is harsh on the outside, Belle soon finds that he has a softer side too. What she doesn't know, however, is that he used to be a prince, before a spell was cast on him that made him look the way he does now; he must break the spell by his 21st birthday by finding someone to love him, or else he will look like a beast forever. His former servants now are the fixtures in the house, as well - there is Mrs. Potts (Angela Lansbury), the teakettle, and her son Chip (Bradley Pierce); Cogsworth (David Ogden Stiers) the clock; Lumiere (Jerry Orbach) the candelabra; and the Wardrobe (Jo Ann Worley), among others.

This is the second film that Disney has released from "the vault" in 3D - the first was The Lion King, in September of last year - and they are planning on releasing a few more too, the next being the more recent Finding Nemo on September 14th. The Lion King did very well at the box office - I believe its initial run was to be for two weeks, but it was extended - and Disney is probably banking on Beauty and the Beast to perform similarly. The film was great to see again, as I had not seen it in some time, but I noticed that when people showed up in 3D near the beginning of the film, it was a little shaky. The 3D became better later on into the film, and the ballroom scenes near the middle and end were done very well in it.

Yes, see this film, especially if you have little ones who have not seen it. Although it's not my favorite of the Disney movies, the servants (fixtures) in the house are fun, and it's interesting to see how later movies (think Beastly) relied on Beauty and the Beast for its inspiration. Belle is one of the "original" Disney princesses, too, and luckily Disney made her not only beautiful, but smart as well ("Women shouldn't be reading - they'll get ideas!" remarks Gaston, near the beginning of the film). Beauty and the Beast is a fun movie for all ages, and the 3D is decent, but The Lion King's 3D was better, in my opinion.

Beauty and the Beast 3D is in theaters today, January 13th, and is rated G with a runtime of 84 minutes (originally released in theaters on November 22, 1991). 3.5 stars out of 5.

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