Beauty and the Beast (IMAX)

A Beautiful MindStarring:
Paige O’Hara as Belle
Robby Benson as Beast
Richard White as Gaston
Jerry Orbach as Lumiere
David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth/Narrator
Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts
Bradley Pierce as Chip
Rex Everhart as Maurice
Jesse Corti as LeFou
Hal Smith as Philippe
Jo Anne Worley as Wardrobe

Summary:
Beauty and the Beast gets an overhaul for the giant screen.

Story:
The Disney favorite “Beauty and the Beast” returns to the big screen, and we do mean “big screen”. The movie has been revamped and cleaned up to be shown on IMAX and other giant screens. Along with cleaning up animation errors and the colors, a new 6-minute song called “Human Again” has been added. (This was first seen in the Broadway musical though it was always intended to be included in the film.) It features the transformed servants singing about being, well, human again as they clean up the castle for the grand ballroom scene.

What Worked:
Disney throws around the term “classic” to describe all of their animated films. However, this is one that really deserves the title. “Beauty and the Beast” still holds up well after being around 10 years. The characters are still fun and the songs are just as memorable as they were the first time you saw it. I took along a 3 year old who had never seen it before and she sat enraptured by it nearly the whole time. To keep a kid still that long is well worth the price of admission. Despite being good kiddie entertainment, the other adults and I thought it was well worth seeing on the big screen again.

I was initially skeptical about seeing Beauty and the Beast on the IMAX screen. It thought it would simply be too big. However, in the end, it worked rather well. In the opening scene as you approach the castle, it really feels like you’re in the animated forest moving towards the castle. It was a cool effect and quickly convinced me the IMAX treatment could work. You also see a lot more detail in the backgrounds and the animation. You can really see how much detail, or lack of detail, goes into the background paintings. The large format lets you appreciate the artwork in the film a bit more.

The new song “Human Again” is fun and fits well into the movie. I saw the stage production before and remembered the musical number from that. While I thought the stage version was much more impressive than the one on film, it was a welcome addition to the “Special Edition”. Fans of Beauty and the Beast should enjoy it.

What Didn’t Work:
While the IMAX treatment worked well in some places, it didn’t in others. While you can appreciate the detail of the animation more in the big format, you also really see the errors more with it. It’s hard to miss when the error is 10 feet tall in front of you. For example, the animation isn’t as smooth when the lines on a character jump a full foot on the screen. You also get a closer look at background characters whose faces consist of nothing more than two dots and a single line smile. The animation on those characters is cruder, but you were never meant to see them so closely. What’s passable on a TV screen or smaller screen doesn’t work well in IMAX.

While I enjoyed the addition of “Human Again”, you could see a difference in the animation. It was much smoother and the lines cleaner. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it was a noticeable change.

Overall it was an enjoyable experience to see Beauty and the Beast on the big screen again and it was fun to take a kid along to see it for the first time. If you have the opportunity to check it out, I recommend doing so.

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