I'm not sure what led me on last night's journey...whether it was needing a bit of princess influx after a hard day or just wanting to get this particular series over with quickly. Needless to say, by the end of the night, I went to bed early because I just couldn't take anymore.
I've ranted and raved incessantly about hand-drawn animation, I know. I'll try to hold the ranting down to a minimum on this one, but no promises. When the "new batch" of Disney movies came out, I was appalled. How dare they ruin such a beautiful medium! It was several years into the movement before I caught on (Hercules is what finally turned my head, but that's for another night). Beauty And The Beast was one of the bigger "second gen" Disney movies (as they are often called). To this day, I still don't get it. Yes, the story is great, the songs are beautiful, and I will even concede that the backgrounds are not really that bad (except when they go full-on CG like the ballroom scene - either do drawn or computer, don't mix the two), but the character animations are horrible! I don't know if it was intentional to make the lesser characters, especially the villagers, incompletely drawn figures, but if it was, I don't understand why. It just looks lazy to my eye and draws me away from the main action. Even when a main character isn't speaking and is in the background, their animation just looks sloppy. It makes me focus in the wrong direction and I get drawn (no pun intended) away from the action.
I guess I should add, when I say "hand-drawn" in the context of the second-gen movies, I mean rather drawn, scanned into the computer, computer colored, and stored so that the next time the character is in the same position, the file is re-used instead of another drawing being scanned. Now, they rarely even draw them by hand first, but rather draw them directly into the computer, which I actually prefer to the other way. Either do it by hand or do it by computer, don't mix the two. Mixed-medium works because you are blending animation and live-action and the contrast is startling enough to work. Mixing two forms of animation isn't "different" enough to work, it's like using colored pencils and oil paints in the same picture...they don't work together but against each other. Chalks and pencils or acrylics and gouaches work together (oil doesn't really play well with anything, so that was probably a bad example). Now making hand-drawn look CG or CG to look hand-drawn works (like in the case of Tangled), but that technology does come along until Gen-Three.
Don't get me wrong, I love the "idea" of Beauty And The Beast. I love the merchandise, their new influence at the Magic Kingdom, Lumiere, etc. But I am not a fan of this movie (I know, blasphemy, right?). It's a good movie to stitch to because I can enjoy the story and songs without my focus being swayed by the animation quality and I do watch it quite a bit in that context. I even went and saw it in the theater when it came out in 3-D, but honestly, it was only to see Tangled Ever After (which is actually on the Cinderella DVD instead of B&B for some weird reason). As a matter of fact, I was whispering heckles at the animation throughout the entire thing...I probably drove Tony mad (but hey, he now knows the scene I always complain about where her hand isn't finished and it's blatantly visible). But anyway, on with the trailer, because it's only going to go down from here.
I wasn't sure which sequel came next, but I went with Belle's Magical World. I picked this one because I figured it had to be better than the Christmas one (and I don't like Christmas anyway so I was putting it off as long as possible). Let me just say, when I said the Cinderella sequels were bad, I had no idea. This movie was HORRIBLE! It is now the worst one I've watched so far. How in the heck are these movies even still in print? Hercules Zero To Hero is not and it was much better than any of these, but I'm getting off track.
When it came time to watch Beauty And The Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (which technically I should have watched first chronologically speaking), I was dreading it quite possibly more than I'm dreading the "death" movies (you know, the ones where poor defenseless animals must die so that the story can progress like Bambi?). It wasn't nearly as bad as Magical World and was probably even better than The Cinderella sequels, but only just barely. If it wasn't for Tim Curry's magnificent Forte though, it would have been another failure (which, animation wise, was far from magnificent because they chose to do him CG while all the other characters were hand-drawn).
Could someone please explain to me the appeal of these two sequels? I just don't get it. There are very few negative reviews online that I could find...everyone seems to love them. Not even mentioning the horrible animation, the stories are weak, a lot of the songs are borderline dreadful, especially the big one that Belle sings in the Christmas movie. I mean, you've got Paige O'Hara belting out amazing vocals on a lyrically weak song and it's just painful. It made me think of those concerts that Pavarotti used to do with pop stars where they sang the pop hits together, do you remember? Yeah, painful (even my beloved Simon LeBon's rendition of Ordinary World with Pavarotti...sad). Like coating a McDonald's hamburger with gold-laced truffle oil. Like comparing a kindergartener's drawings to Marc Davis. Just wrong on so many levels.
While I'm at it, the Beast turns human at the end of movie 1, why didn't they make the sequels about what Belle's life was like in the castle after "happily ever after"? That I wouldn't mind seeing (although, it failed in the Cinderella ones, so then again, maybe not). Both movies centered around a moment in time (or, in the case of Magical World, three moments in time) while Belle was a prisoner in the castle. Her incarceration is over people, move on! I actually kept saying throughout both movies, "there was this one time in band camp...".
I know, just saying anything negative against the first movie is tantamount to treason to the Disney community, and yet, here I am, doing it anyway. Most of the animation community though, while they praise the ballroom scene, agree with me on the characterizations, so I don't feel completely alone in the world.
I guess I should warn you now, I think even less of the Little Mermaid and her sequels, so you might want to skip that review if you disagree with me here. All I can say about Day 19 is that I'm glad it's over with and it may be a while before I tackle Mermaid...maybe while I clean the house or something.
Full-Length Animation: 34
Animated Shorts: 209
Live-Action Shorts: 5
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1