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Beauty and the Beast is a Beautiful Rendering
See more reviews by Greg Wright, Contributing Writer

5 starsOkay—I'm a goon.  Until last night, I had never seen Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  It's true!

To be honest, I'm glad I waited.  The new digital transfer of the award-winning film—processed for the Diamond Edition DVD/Blu-ray release October 5, and for the Fathom 'Sing-Along" event playing on the big screen at selected theaters this Saturday—is stunning.  I honestly can't imagine it looking better in its initial release, projected from a scratchy 35mm print.

Oscar-Winning Film
What's to be said about the film that hasn't already been said?  Disney's version takes the classic fairy tale—about an enchanted prince cum beast who must win the heart of a fair maiden or die trying—and layers on additional subplots about Belle's inventor father, an obnoxious, hyper-manly suitor named Gaston, and the enchanted inhabitants of the Beast's castle, all of whom have been transformed into furniture and bric-a-brac.

Beauty and the Beast, of course, was almost exclusively animated in Disney's traditional hand-drawn style—with the exception of the ballroom sequence, which was outsourced in part to then-collaborator Pixar.  The artwork is all bright and sharp, and the opening scene which introduces us to the Beast's realm recalls the best of Disney's ground-breaking multi-dimensional (yet nonetheless "2-D") animation.  The colors are crisp and bright, and even the Beast, in its own way, is lovely (more so, I must say, than the Prince himself!).

The film rightfully won Oscars® for Best Original Score and Best Original Song and was also nominated for Best Picture.  The script is tight and efficient, yet not rushed, and the musical numbers consistently had me hooting in delight—I kid you not.

First-Rate Vocal Characterizations
Vocal characterizations are first rate, too, with classics like Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, and David Ogden Stiers in supporting roles while Paige O'Hara charms as Belle.  I was literally dumbfounded, however, to discover that Robby Benson voiced the Beast.  Wow.  Who'd have guessed?

The themes, of course, are classic: no one is beyond redemption; don't ostracize, bully, or persecute those who are "different:"; love conquers all.

As to the theatrical presentation... I've said it not once, but two, three, four, and five times: if you haven't yet discovered Fathom events at your local theater, you really need to.  This presentation, including Disney's dynamite specially-titled remastering of the film for sing-along, features an intro hosted by Jordin Sparks that makes for a fine warm-up act for the main event.  Sparks is a dynamic, engaging entertainer who makes trivia sparkle and enthusiasm infectious.

The encore Fathom presentation of Beauty and the Beast is this Saturday afternoon at noon, October 2.  If you don't have Blu-ray at home, or simply prefer a great family outing, there is no better chance to catch this Disney classic.

Also coming October 19 and 26... The Sound of Music sing-along!

Beauty and the Beast is rated G.  As with most Disney films, there are some frightening elements here—but nothing from which we need to protect our children.

Courtesy of Fathom and a national publicist, Greg received complimentary passes to the first-night sing-along of Beauty and the Beast.

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