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3D: Ditaliano on Disney DVD: Beauty and the Beast

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Guest TSMAdmin

Look Ma, I'm in Pop Culture!




Yep, everyone's favorite jaded, cynical wrestling fan is indeed a Disney nut. Who would have thunk it, huh? I'm not sure what it is about them, but with the exception of The Jungle Book, which I have always hated, any Disney animated film can get me to drop everything for an hour and a half and watch.




So imagine my joy a couple of years back when Disney announced their Platinum Series program. Some of my favorite Disney movies, like Aladdin, Lion King, Snow White, and of course, my personal favorite, Beauty and the Beast were now going to be released on DVD with what were announced as un-fucking-believable special features. So I rushed out and bought the first two (Snow White and Beauty and the Beast) and I am anxiously awaiting Lion King, which will be released in October.




When I got this job I was hired as a wrestling columnist, but I was also given a blank check to pretty much do whatever else I wanted to. So right away I wanted to do a couple of DVD reviews (Which I think I mentioned in an early column)but that would have to wait until I got something worked out with my DVD player. Well, I got that fixed like three weeks ago, but I just wasn't motivated enough to do a review until last night. So, I got this cleared with Will, and as of today, along with my weekly SfA column, I will do occasional DVD reviews. Yay!




Obviously I'm going to try to do mostly Disney animated DVDs, but I will possibly take suggestions and do some of my other movies. They need the love too.




Before I begin, I just want to explain how I'm going to go bout reviewing these DVDs. First of all, I don't know jackshit about sound or the quality of the picture. If I find something to be particularly bad even by my standards, I'll mention it. In my reviews I'll be critiquing the movie itself and all the special features (Or lack there of) and anything else that pops into my mind.




Well, seeing as my introduction is almost as big as my entire RVD column and that I have a bunch of stuff I'd like to cover in this review, Now might be the best time to start it. So without further ado, I present to you...





3D, Ditaliano on (Disney) DVD: Beauty and the Beast Platinum Edition




Section A: The Movie




By the way, just in case anyone was wondering, much like last night’s column, this was inexplicably deleted. But I outsmarted it this time MWAHAHAHA!




We all know the story, so this part won't be exceptionally long. The lovely Belle is something of an outcast in her small village. She likes to read, and she has absolutely no interest in Gaston, the most handsome and popular man in town. This this is a cartoon, no one's Gaydar is beeping.




Meanwhile, a vain, conceited prince is punished by a witch for being vain and conceited. He is transformed into a hideous beast (What he was on the inside)and all of his servants become talking objects such as a clock, a teapot, or a candlestick. They will remain this way for the rest of their lives unless The Beast can find true love before the last petal of his enchanted rose falls on his 21st birthday.




After the Beast captures Belle’s father, Belle offers herself up as his prisoner instead. Seeing this as his opportunity to fall in love, the Beast accepts. The movie progresses, showing Belle making friends with Lumiere the candlestick, Mrs. Potts the teapot, her son/teacup Chip, and the stuffy clock, Cogsworth. While this is happening, Belle and the Beast slowly fall in love.




Meanwhile, the evil Gaston and his sidekick Lefou, plot their attack on the Beast. They rile up the town and form a mob to kill the Beast. After the servants take care of the mob, the Beast and Gaston right on the castle roof where Gaston falls to his death after apparently killing the Beast. But alas, love conquers all, as Belle’s profession of love at the very last minute revives the Beast, breaking the spell and freeing the castle. They live happily ever after.




I told you I wouldn’t waste too much time on it.




Anyway, the movie was a smash hit. The animation was great, the voice actors (Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Jerry Orbach and Angela Lansbury, just to name a few) were superb. Almost everyone praised the movie, and it was winning awards left and right. It was also the first animated movie to be nominated for an Academy Award for best picture. (For some reason I want to say Silence of the Lambs won it, but that doesn’t seem right. Please correct me.)




Section B: The Special Features




Following the lead set by Snow White, this movie is a two disc set with a shitload of features. This is dubbed as an all-new “Experiential DVD.” I don’t have a clue what that means exactly, but really, who cares. To the DVD!




Disc One




Disc one by itself makes a pretty good package. Right off the bat, you’ll see that there are three versions of the movie. We have the original, which was seen in theatres in 1991. Secondly, we have the Special Edition, which may have been shown in Imax theatres last year. This includes the musical sequence “Human Again” which was cut from the original because they had nowhere to put it. It was added in this one after a good showing in the Broadway play. The whole movie has been cleaned up and certain minor things were fixed. Probably the best of the three choices. The third is the work in progress version that got a standing ovation at the NY Film Festival. I guess if that’s your cup of tea, you would like that. I didn’t.




Obviously, this movie is HUGE on music. And many of these songs were so good or catchy that you just couldn’t help but try and sing along to them. Well, thanks to the sing-along function on this DVD, now you can actually get the words right! It’s a cute feature and something that anyone can enjoy. I certainly did.




I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite features of a DVD is the director’s commentary. All the little factoids and tidbits really interest me. Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise and Alen Menken do a GREAT job on this movie, proving to be both informative and entertaining throughout the whole thing. That’s what one looks for on a commentary track. I’ve actually listened to commentaries where they barely talk. That just sucks. These guys know when to talk and when to let the movie do the talking.




Finally on disc one, is Maurice’s Workshop, a trivia game where you help Chip build a machine. That’s cool in itself, but after you beat this game, you are given a password for the game on the next disc. That is just so damn cool. I guess that may be the experiential part. Whatever it is, it’s and awesome feature and a great addition to the DVD placed just right (On the first disc) so as to make the set seem even more special. That’s one of the main reasons I love this new wave of Disney DVDs. They make such a big deal out of them and it definitely lives up to the hype.




Disc 2




For the three or four people who weren’t satisfied with disc one, disc two will sell it for them.




Where to begin. Well, as soon as you pop the disc in, you are led inside the castle, where you have the option of following Cogsworth and Lumiere into the library, Mrs. Potts on her tour, Chip in his game section or the Break The Spell enchanted rose game. Wow. Just wow.




Let’s start with the rose game. After using your password from the last game, we’re in. There is a storm in the west wing that threatens to knock the rose over. So we have to help guide Chip across the dining room table, avoiding dancing candlesticks, up the stairs, avoiding falling balls, and around the West Wing, avoiding flying debris. There are also little mini games, where you can answer morality questions from the witch and, find the incorrect picture or match the objects to their people shadows. Cool.




Next on the menu is Chip’s Fun and Games section. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t like it, but it is more of a kid’s section, so that makes sense. Here you can listen to kids from the Disney Channel explain animation, play the B and B version of the classic “match that tone” game, and listen to a bunch of nobodies butcher the song Beauty and the Beast. Yay. Whatever.




Next up, Mrs. Potts’ Engaging Treats This suits adults much better than the Chip section. They have Making of Beauty and the Beast, which is like the Reader’s Digest version of the Cogsworth and Lumiere section, with the horrible addition of Celine Dion for no logical reason. NEXT! Okay, now we have something I really like. The “Story Behind the Story” section. Here we get to have Disney celebrities (Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones, Ming Na, Paige O’Hara, David Ogden Stiers, Jodi Benson and Robby Benson) give us the background and original stories of Cinderella, Lion King, Pocahontas, Jungle Book ::spits:: Sleeping Beauty, Mulan and Hunchback of Notre Dame really cool section that they should try with other movies. This section also includes the Mrs. Potts personality game, which matches you up with a charcter from the movie, and MORE FUCKING CELINE DION as she and Peabo Bryson make me hate the song Beauty and the Beast almost as much as Jump 5 did. Overall, the two good sections totally override the bad and make this section thumbs up.




Okay, here’s the big one.




Cogsworth and Lumiere’s Library is like a massive “making of” section. Okay, not like, it is a massive “making of” section. You can watch it whole or in its TEN subsections dealing with just about every aspect of the film. We start with “Origins of Beauty and the Beast”, where, surprisingly, we learn that Walt himself tried and failed at this project many years earlier. Personally, I’m almost glad, because I like this movie better (not by a lot) than the Walt era princess movies. Still shocking that the man himself gave up on it. From here we go to development where they show how they brought the story to the screen.




Bet ya didn’t know that the original “Be Our Guest” segment was supposed to be sung to MAURICE, did ya? Well, it was. So in the Story section, after a brief “Finding the Story” vignette, we get to see the original drawings of Maurice at the table. Of course, when the drawings were changed, they had to change some of song as well. Can’t call Belle “monsieur”, can we? After this we get the skinny on “Human Again” and a clip of this. The music section and how there used to be a different score or something follow this, but I don’t care.




Okay! The Character section! We get the piece that explains to the slow people why characters are needed, followed by a little casting section, and one of the most awesome features on the DVD. Taken from Snow White, We walk around the castle, looking at pictures of characters and getting explanations of those pictures. Ruleage. This is used for Production Design and Release and Reaction, and in my opinion, is absolutely brilliant.




Production Design is kind of boring, but like I said, it has that gallery (but not much more) so it passes on that alone. For you animation buffs, the Animation section just goes over, you know, the whole format of the movie, including animation tests, and interview (short) with an animator and a pencil drawing. Cool enough. The Tricks of the Trade section definitely exceeded my expectations. Showing Animation with computers six or so years before it became big is pretty nice.




Probably the nicest (and definitely the biggest) section is next, the Release and Reaction subsection. This is another thing that if it was by itself, might sell the DVD. It discusses the work in progress showing at the film festival, all it’s nominations and awards, a really, really nice tribute to Howard Ashman, a composer who sadly passed away just before the film hit theatres. It also has my favorite thing on the DVD, those guided galleries, and that goddamn Celine Dion song. Eh, can’t win ‘em all. We finish off with the Broadway play, which explains how it became as huge as it did, and more galleries! Yay!




Section C: Final Verdict




Wow, that is SOME FUCKING SPECIAL FEATURE SECTION! Even if this wasn’t one of the best movie ever (In my humble opinion, of course) the special features would force me to buy it.




Movie: 10/10




Special Features: 10/10




Final Verdict: 10/10, try to find it online NOW.




Well, that’s it this time folks. I personally think that my first DVD review went well. It’s actually larger than my last two Searching for Answers columns put together. But of course, size isn’t everything, so let me know what I can change.




See ya on Friday!








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