Beauty and the Beast-The Enchanted Christmas (1997)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 67:50
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Andy Knight
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Paige O'Hara
Robbie Benson
Jerry Orbach
David Ogden Stiers
Bernadette Peters
Tim Curry
Paul Reubens
Angela Lansbury
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Rachel Portman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Icelandic Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In the spirit of the season that seems more important than the real reason for Christmas, another blatantly commercial showing gets a DVD release in preference to films of more artistic merit. It is the Christmas season, so that means for commercial reasons, we get the obligatory christmassy releases including Beauty And The Beast - The Enchanted Christmas. No doubt some bean counter in the Disney organization will be able to adequately explain why this made-for-video effort, blatantly made to cash in on the wonderful original, manages to get a DVD airing before the original. Now don't misunderstand me, this may be an exploitative made-for-video effort, but it is actually a reasonably enjoyable, albeit short, film. It simply is a denigration of the original film to have this come out on DVD before the original, which I might add would probably sell in significantly larger numbers.

   If you are unaware of the original animated Beauty And The Beast, you may not understand some of the references here. Suffice it to say that the Beast (Robby Benson) is suffering, along with his household staff, from the effects of a curse placed upon the castle as a result of his self-centred behaviour. His salvation will only come when he meets a woman who will love him for what he is, and thus enters Belle (Paige O'Hara). Naturally, the original ends in true Disney fashion with everything working out and all living happily ever after. It is now a little after those events, Christmas, and the household staff in the form of Lumiere (Jerry Orbach), Cogsworth (David Ogden Stiers) and Mrs Potts (Angela Lansbury) are reminiscing about how Christmas was returned to the castle by Belle the previous year. The story is simple enough: Beast is in love with Belle, Belle wants to make Christmas special, Beast is not too keen, Belle is infuriatingly single-minded in her pursuit of a happy Christmas. The rest is as they say, history - or more correctly, herstory.

    Even in these made-for-video presentations, the general quality of the animation is very good. A pity that this is often better than the story, but that is also part of the Disney tradition. The story here is really very simple, and its presentation here is just about spot-on in terms of the length that it could sustain. Most of the vocal cast return from the original film, plus a couple of new additions in Bernadette Peters as Angelique, the house decorator, and Tim Curry as Forte, the court composer. All do a suitable good job and they keep the interest level moving along at a decent rate. The animation is a blend of traditional and computer, with that of Forte clearly being computer generated. It is all uniformly good with nothing to complain about. This sort of effort is where new or emerging talent gets a chance in the Disney organization I guess and that would account for the unknown name in the director's chair. The result, however, is decent enough.

    It may not be the original and it may not be the best story, but the result is quite a mildly entertaining effort that will probably keep the younger set happy. However, amongst the other animated features coming out at the moment, there is not much here of great distinction to encourage its purchase in preference to great quality like Tarzan or Toy Story 2, or esteemed classics like Fantasia.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    As this is a made-for-video effort, the transfer is presented in a Full Frame format, which is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    There is certainly little to complain about in this transfer. A nice sharp transfer indeed, with loads of detail in the picture and plenty of decency in the shadow detail created, even in the darker scenes. A very clear transfer, there is not a hint of grain at all in the transfer, and there is no problem with low level noise.

    The colours come up wonderfully well here, with plenty of vibrancy where it is required and plenty of subtlety where it was required. A very nice looking matt finish here, with the computer animated sequences showing Forte a nicely contrasting metallic feel. There is plenty of depth to the colours, without a hint of oversaturation nor any issue with colour bleed.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There did not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. There were some obvious film artefacts in the transfer, but nothing that really was too distracting or annoying.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are eight soundtracks on this DVD, being Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in English, French and Italian, and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtracks in Dutch, Hebrew, Polish, Hungarian and Icelandic. I listened to the English default.

    The dialogue and vocals come up very well in the transfer and are easy to understand. There is of course the inherent problem of animation sync.

    The music and songs come from Rachel Portman, and try to meet the strict Disney formula of a few good songs to keep the animation flowing along. Unfortunately it has to be said that the songs are not exactly great, and the score is even less so. Nonetheless, they support the film reasonably well, even if they do not in the least indicate anything other than made-for-video status.

    Unusually for a Disney animated feature aimed at the younger set, this gets not only a bass channel but a quite aggressive bass channel to boot. When the organ kicks in, this really lets fly with some very decent bass support. It seems a little incongruous to have a full 5.1 soundtrack here yet something like Tarzan gets only a 5.0 effort. The organ scenes are what really demonstrates the excellence of this soundtrack. Apart from the bass channel kicking in, there is some glorious surround channel detail that really accompanies the bass reverb very well indeed. This is definitely an excellent soundtrack that is in many ways far better than this made-for-video effort deserves.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Well, it did not take long for Disney to revert to their true colours - there is nothing here, not even the theatrical trailer promised on the back cover.

Menu

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as can be ascertained, the Region 1 release is identical in content to the Region 4 release, making Region 4 the version of choice owing to PAL formatting.

Summary

    Beauty And The Beast - The Enchanted Christmas is not a patch on the original animated film, but is still a reasonably entertaining effort, albeit on a sadly-devoid-of-anything-but-a-video DVD. The problem is that this is being released into a Christmas marketplace already blessed with some great animated features, which would have far more claims to your dollars than this. Still, a decent enough way of keeping the tribe happy over the long summer holidays, if they get tired of the T-films.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Thursday, December 07, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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