Beauty and the Beast: IMAX is the IMAX treatment of the Disney animation classic from 1991. This is easily my second favorite modern Disney animated film behind The Lion King and it was great to see it again. With the success of Fantasia 2000, Disney decided to bring one of its modern classics to IMAX. There are rumors that Disney will bring its Platinum DVD movie for each year out in IMAX the year that it will be released. With Beauty and the Beast coming out on DVD this year this rumor may indeed be true.
Beauty and the Best is a story about love between a beautiful young girl and a scary beast. The opening talks about a prince who rejects giving help to a haggard old lady. She then turns into a beautiful enchantress and changes the prince into a Beast. He must fall in love with a woman and have her fall in love with him before the last pedal on his enchanted rose falls on his 21st birthday or he will remain a beast for all of time.
After the prelude we are shown a girl named Belle who lives in a small French town and seems to want to be somewhere else and do something on her own. There's a massive musical number that the townspeople sing about Belle. The local burly man, Gaston, wants to marry Belle but she rejects his advances. Belle's father is the local inventor who is building a new contraption to bring to the Inventor show. He tunes his contraption and goes off to the show but he loses his way and is attacked by wolves. He sees a large gate and goes through to enter a castle. There he finds a living candlestick named Lumiere, a clock named Cogsworth, a teapot named Mrs. Potts and a teacup named Chip along with a huge, angry Beast.
The Beast puts Belle's father into the dungeon. The father's horse comes back to Belle and she rides the horse back to the castle. She finds her father and the Beast shows up. She takes the place of her dad in the castle even though her father does not want that to happen. Belle's dad goes back to the town and tells everyone about the Beast, but no one believes him thinking he is a crazy old coot. Eventually they do find out there is in fact a Beast and they go to take him down. Will the Beast find true love with Belle or is he cursed for all time?
This is one of Disney's best musical efforts for the modern age along with The Little Mermaid. Every song has a meaning in it and it is sad that such a great lyricist as Howard Ashman died before this movie originally came out in 1991. He and Alan Menken oversaw the music and lyrics of the two best musical efforts Disney ever put forward in the modern age. Nothing since has truly captured the essence of storytelling through music like the two movies they worked on together.
Beauty and the Beast is still the only animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture. This year we have the Best Animated Feature, but none of the nominees made it into the Best Picture category. Watching this movie again reminds me of how great this movie was when it came out in 1991. Little Mermaid was just the beginning, Beauty and the Beast was as close to perfect as Disney got early on in their re-emergence into animated movies.
I will be honest in that it was very difficult to watch the IMAX presentation of this movie. You really start to see the imperfections of this movie on a 6-story sized screen. The backgrounds seem very static and uninteresting than they did on a regular movie screen and even some of the animated characters are not up to great levels. It was a bit sad to watch this in IMAX although I still love this movie. The interesting part of Beauty and the Beast is to see what it has wrought in this day and age.
Beauty and the Beast was the first Disney Animated film to have a CGI sequence in it. The dancing scene between Belle and the Beast is Disney's early work into CGI. The new scene/song for the IMAX movie is also done with a bit of CGI and can be a bit jarring in the fact that the characters are drawn that much better in this section than the rest of the movie. This CGI work has grown larger and larger through movies like Aladdin (carpet ride), Lion King (the stampede), Mulan (Huns invading on the snow), Tarzan (skiing on vines), Fantasia 2000 and finally the ultimate 2D/CGI blend of Atlantis. I also see many characters from those movies in Beauty and the Beast in regards to drawing/animation. You can tell many of the same people who worked on Beauty and the Beast worked on many of those films as well.
Final Thoughts: This is not the best movie to see in IMAX. I did not feel the same experience I felt when I went to go see Fantasia 2000 at the same theater. Fantasia 2000 awed me graphically but Beauty and the Beast did not. It is still a great movie but maybe it is better off waiting for the DVD later this year. The only great thing about this is you can see it on the big screen or, in this case, a huge screen again. The thing I truly found neat was seeing how many children in the audience were there that were not born when the movie first came out. They are the reason Disney is re-releasing Beauty and the Beast and I hope they find success in that. The future generations need to keep the Disney classics alive. Recommended as an IMAX experience, Highly Recommended if you want to see this great movie again.