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Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas(1997)
Belle prepares the castle for Christmas against Beast's wishes, trying to bring him happiness for the season. Forte, a pipe organ, fears that Belle's plans may eventually bring about an end to the curse... the curse that brought him more importance in the Master's life. Forte uses Fife, a flute who desperately wants a solo, to destroy Belle's plans and get rid of her.
For more about Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas and the Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Blu-ray release, see Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on November 28, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Robby Benson, Paige O'Hara, Jerry Orbach, Tim Curry, Angela Lansbury, David Ogden Stiers
Director: Andrew Knight (IV)
» See full cast & crew
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Blu-ray Review
More than a lump of coal, less than all you've been asking for...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, November 28, 2011
Part prequel, part midquel, part sequel, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas will strike the cynical among you as one big holiday cash-in (circa 1997). For the more holiday spirited and festively naive, though, it will remain the quaint, quasi-successful direct-to-video Christmas special that has delighted young Disney Princess hopefuls for fifteen years now. Without a wide-eyed, Belle-enamored daughter at my side, though, its fiery furball festivities and grumbly Grinch romanticism left me cold. It not only falls short of the original 1991 Disney classic, its Christmas cheer is a bit contrived, its characters skate by on thin ice, and its heartwarming holiday love story gets swept up in the hustle and bustle of its gruff tidings of reluctant joy.
Strung loosely between Beauty and the Beast's wolf attack and Beast's first gift to Belle, The Enchanted Christmas returns to a time when the Beast (Robby Benson) is still a less-than-hospitable host to his demure castle guest, Belle (Paige O'Hara) is still at the behest of the Beast's mood swings, and his servants -- Cogsworth (David Ogden Stiers), Lumiere (Jerry Orbach), Mrs. Potts (Angela Lansbury) and Chip (Haley Joel Osment) among them -- are just beginning to play matchmaker. As if it didn't fall in line with every other humbug hangup the Beast clings to, Belle is stunned to learn that the former prince doesn't celebrate Christmas. After all, what supernaturally cursed shut-in doesn't love mistletoe and chestnuts? Belle soon begins chipping away at the ice around Beast's heart, goes in search of the perfect Christmas tree, contends with a villainous pipe organ (Tim Curry) in the castle depths, and befriends several new additions to the Beauty and the Beast family: Christmas ornament Angelique (Bernadette Peters), piccolo Fife (Paul Reubens) and wood ax Axe (Jeff Bennett).
Like many of the direct-to-video sequels Disney released in the '90s, The Enchanted Christmas features merely adequate animation, a simultaneously underdeveloped and convoluted storyline, and capped-budget production values. The inevitable comparison between the midquel and the original Beauty and the Beast doesn't help matters either. The songs aren't nearly as memorable, the romance and intrigue aren't as magical, and Belle and Beast are slaves to a pre-established timeline that doesn't allow room for an unpredictable finale or a satisfying payoff. And Belle? Belle looks as if she's gone one too many rounds with the Beast. Her lips lag behind her words, her movements are stiff, and her limbs are stocky. The graceful muse of Beauty and the Beast has been transformed into a pale imitation of herself. Will young viewers or the young at heart really notice? Any of it; the animation, the songs, the shortcomings? The short answer is no. Those with insatiable appetites for all things Disney will delight in Belle's holiday adventure, no matter how brash and bestial the Beast may be. (Although I should offer one word of warning. The murky message the film comes dangerously close to teaching little girls? You can change that abusive brute into a tender, loving prince with enough patience, tough love and stand-your-ground determination. Um... any problem with that message? Anyone? Anyone?)
The real question is this: does the delight of would-be princesses and Disney daughters grant an average paint-by-numbers midquel a free pass? It may if your household is a part of the Enchanted Christmas target demographic, but for most everyone else, it will be just that: an average paint-by-numbers midquel. It doesn't enhance the original Beauty and the Beast, it simply tacks on inconsequential subplots and characters. It doesn't enrich the original story (not significantly anyway), it just squeezes a holiday vignette into the middle of a tale that didn't need a holiday vignette. It doesn't offer much at all, really, other than a semisweet slice of Christmas spirit wrapped in a mildly entertaining (albeit easily dismissed) Blu bow. As I said, though, I don't have a daughter, and The Enchanted Christmas wasn't made with cynics in mind. If you do, and if you don't hold your Christmas fare to a higher standard, Disney's late-90s Beauty and the Beast followup will get far more mileage in your family's BD player than mine. My family? We'll be watching The Muppets Christmas Carol, not-so-patiently awaiting its Blu-ray debut.
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Enchanted Christmas features a dull, seemingly diluted 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer. The presentation is presumably faithful to its original source, mind you, but the results aren't exactly a sight to behold. Contrast is weak and inconsistent, black levels are often muted (with charcoal tones muscling out inky hues), and primaries lack holiday cheer and general power. Scenes range from dim to smoky to frosty to, yes, in a few cases, quite striking. More distressingly, CG-animated elements -- Forte, the evil pipe organ, chief among them -- are plagued by aliasing, pixelated edges and other digital anomalies (albeit anomalies derived from the midquel's source). All that being said, The Enchanted Christmas has never been an animated stunner and the Blu-ray edition represents a notable upgrade from its standard DVD counterpart. Colors are more robust, clarity is dramatically improved, lines are sharper, and the encode itself isn't riddled with compression issues, noise or other major oddities (aside from, again, those that have been inherited). Granted, some banding creeps in, but it's fleeting and fairly negligible. In the end, I suspect The Enchanted Christmas looks about as good as it could, at least without some substantial tweaking. This is just one of the few cases where I would have really welcomed some substantial tweaking.
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Blu-ray, Audio Quality
It all sounds great, though... in as much as a direct-to-video animated midquel's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track could. Voices are clean and clear, the movie's songs and score swell beautifully, and several directional and ambient effects fill out the soundfield nicely, be they crackling fires, huffing furnaces, looming organs, crunching snow, or approaching wolves. The Enchanted Christmas doesn't deliver an engrossing sonic experience, at least not in the majority of its quiet, conversational scenes, but LFE output is commendable throughout, rear speaker activity doesn't disappoint (despite some rather empty environments) and dynamics are decent. Ultimately, fans of The Enchanted Christmas will be pleased, so long as they approach the movie with appropriate DTV expectations.
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
With Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas we get yet another direct-to-video Disney midquel/sequel on Blu-ray. Whether that excites you or leaves you shrugging your shoulders may depend entirely on who you share your house with, but those who enjoy Belle and Beast's first Christmas together won't complain. Much. Disney's video encode is technically sound but doesn't stand out, the movie's DTS-HD Master Audio track is the highlight of the disc, and its supplemental package is a wash. Diehard Disney completists will be satisfied, fence-sitters will be left sitting on the fence, and detractors won't be swayed. Proceed accordingly.
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Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Blu-ray, News and Updates
• $5 Coupon for Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Blu-ray - November 21, 2011
For a limited time, Disney Movie Rewards is offering a $5 coupon for use towards the two-disc Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. This exclusive deal will last until November 27th on Disney.com.
• Beauty and the Beast Enchanted Christmas Blu-ray - June 9, 2011
In anticipation of the holiday season, Walt Disney Studios will release Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack this November. The story of Belle's attempts to bring some Christmas cheer to the Beast and his gloomy existence, ...
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