Beauty and the Beast still stands as one of the greatest animated movies to ever be released. It is the only animated feature to be nominated for best picture (I don’t count the shameless promotions and money grubbing of studios that led to the Academy expanding the class and including Up in a year that had far better nominees left off the list), and the only title from Disney’s Princesses brand that has crossed over to every generation and gender. Simply put, it is an amazing animated tale that featured some quality music, unique and entertaining characters, as well as a great story. However, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas is a very different story.
If ever there was a studio with an abundance of great products and brands, it is Disney. And if ever there was a studio that could take a successful product, and release countless of straight to home video sequels destroying the quality of the product but cashing in on countless of spoiled children, it is… well, let’s get to the review.
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas takes a time frame from the original Beauty and the Beast movie and dives deeper into it. The snowy, winter moments that Belle and the Beast enjoy are elaborated on as they share a Christmas holiday together in a winter wonderland. Much like Belle teaches the monster that was once a prince what caring for somebody and something else means, she continues to do so by teaching him the joys of sharing a holiday with those he cares about.
Much like Disney’s other straight to video sequels that filled my adolescence, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas is far from the treat that was the first release. The addition of new characters and new songs are far outweighed by the weak plot with an even weaker conflict, as well as the home video animation, replaced voices and rushed feel. However, no matter how weak Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas may seem, it finds itself successful by marketing a princess and Christmas in one package.
Is Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas a worthy movie? The question is a very tough one to answer, as it really depends on the audience in the house. The movie is not a film that movie buffs, who found themselves enjoying Disney’s original Beauty and the Beast, should rush out to purchase. The target audience obviously fits into an age range that can be counted on one’s fingers as well as daddy’s trying to convince their spoiled little brats they are princesses.
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas is exactly what the other straight to home video Disney releases are; a product that is targeted at a very specific audience in hopes on cashing in on a few more moments of joy in that young audiences’ hearts. This isn’t something that I highly enjoyed, or recommend, but those who have little princesses eagerly waiting on their next Blu-ray to arrive might find this to be a great holiday purchase.
As often reported, Disney’s classic animated features boast a video and audio presentation that rival even their new day-and-date releases. The Diamond Series is an absolute must for anybody wanting demo worthy material, as all of those classics can instantly upgrade anybody’s home theater setup.
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, unfortunately, does not fit in with that class. The Mpeg-4 1080p video transfer is not what one would call “demo” material. The image is a solid upgrade from the previously released Special Edition DVD, but it doesn’t compete with the typical Disney look. The image is a bit soft throughout the entire feature. The colors that one would expect to pop in regards to a holiday film are no more detailed and vibrant than the browns and blacks that swarm the Beast’s castle. The lack of detail in backgrounds and foregrounds don’t help the image at all, as it seems like the image is hiding more than it is displaying. Overall, the image looks decent, aliasing and micro-banding doesn’t overwhelm the presentation (like many other, lower budget 2D animated films), and colors look accurate and balanced. The Enchanted Christmas’ video presentation falls somewhere south of great and north of average.
The audio, on the other hand, takes Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas to the high definition level one might be hoping for. The movie is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that delivers full, deep lows and clear, rich highs. All the speakers are active throughout the feature, especially during the musical sequences. Dialogue is crisp and clear, never fighting the rest of the audio track for center stage. The subwoofer isn’t very active, but gets into the holiday spirit with a few spills and falls as well as with some of the many musical numbers. The biggest win for Disney on this disc is this DTS audio track.
There’s not much enchantment in the extra features of Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. There’s a fair amount of features, with half of them being in high definition as well as the extra disc that includes the DVD copy. Sadly, the stack is minimal compared to the normal slate Disney offers, but those who are interested in the movie will just have to make due.
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas isn’t what many people may have been looking for upon release. Now, with the audience knowing the truth, people can make up their mind if they want to add the straight to home video, holiday special, in-betweenquel (sequel) of one of Disney’s greatest masterpieces to their collection. Did that sentence throw you off the trail? If it did, just be wise in knowing that the video is far from great but the audio boasts full high definition spirit. If you were looking to get this for your little princess at home, I’m sure they’ll be pleased with it… for a couple viewings at least.