BEAUTY & THE BEAST (Rated G): returns the children's fable to the screen after many relatively successful versions, the last one being the 1991 Disney animated version, fresh & triumphant in its own right, and returned here with a new 3D updating, with Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise as directors, and with a refreshing musical score in traditional Disney-style by Alan Menken & Howard Ashman.
The plot of the original fable remains more or less intact, with Robby Benson as the voice of the Beast and Paige O'Hara as the beauty Belle - with Belle being captured in a fantastic journey to save her father from a terrible fate, to be taken prisoner in the Beast's castle, where she is royally treated - not only by the Beast (as long as she follows stringent orders), but abetted by various enchanted bric-a-brac including a mantel clock, candelabra, & tea pot (charmingly played by the voice of Angela Lansbury). She eventually learns to see beneath the Beast's frightening exterior to find him a prince and so she falls in love with him and, finally, to - well, you know the blissful ending.
The movie's emphasis is less intent on sweetness than on making its story's main point about faith & blind obedience; it is more darkly forbidding and sometimes more violent than the usual Disney animated children's fables. But it relies on its substance, on what it has to say, to make it appealing to both adults & children alike. It is sumptuously radiant in true Disney fashion - a real treat, with or without the unnecessary 3D.
And there's a short feature to flesh out its 84-minutes, titled, "Tangled Ever After." (Grade: A-)