Impression: Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Thought bubble
The local AMC theater has been playing old movies for a few weekend showings. They have a couple different classics each week. That’s how I saw the original How to Train Your Dragon.

This afternoon I went to see the 1991 Disney Beauty and the Beast. They had it on twice today and the 2PM showing fit my schedule. I was the only one in the theater.

I don’t understand the economics of a movie theater. Much of their cash flow comes from concessions. They probably get money for the trailers that the show. They also have revenue from advertisers. Tickets haven’t been a substantial source of income for the movies I go to. Usually there are four or fewer in the audience. Is the fee for advertising prorated for the size of the audience?

In first run movies, the tickets are a big deal. Perhaps they just need to keep the doors open. It lets them make a net profit with the help of big movies while keeping the venue relevant by having a big selection that only few people watch. I usually go in the afternoon. That might give me a distorted perspective on how many are in an evening audience.

Perhaps the older movies are playing on behalf of Disney. It could be market research for their streaming service? Is there a corporate connection between AMC and Disney?

So, Beauty and the Beast was an ok movie. There were several songs. None of them stuck with me after the show. All of the characters were really rough caricatures and I couldn’t really identify with any of them. Of course, here’s not a lot of character development you can do in 84 minutes. I didn’t notice “adult” content that was meant to go over the heads of kids but be meaningful to adults (unless it went over my head too).

With 1991 being the release year, they could use technology to do some of the animation. I don’t think they did much. In the intro, you could see layers move as the perspective shifted on the trees; a good hint that it is cel animation. The characters were drawn primarily with cel techniques. A group of four or five animators were responsible for each character.

There was one place where you could see that they had help from computers. During the dance scene with Belle and the Beast, the stars, windows and chandelier were too complex to do as traditional cel animation. It was most obvious with the changing perspective as the camera went past the chandelier. I think the computer give the animators a starting point.

I noticed that this had a similar structure to the Aladdin that starred Robin Williams. The villain has a sidekick who is loud and obnoxious and is only played for comic relief. The sidekicks are throw away (and annoying) characters. There’s probably other tropesthat both films use.

It was a nice film for the AMCs A-List membership so that my only expense was the travel.

Review: How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

a film reelAs the animated How to Train Your Dragon opens, you enter the colorful world of the Vikings living in their seaside village for generations. Surprisingly, all of the buildings are new. As the story unfolds, you learn why. The Vikings, their village and livestock often get attacked by dragon hordes that carry away the animals. Dragons, being known for breathing fire, set the village alight during their attacks.

Everyone in the village is devoted to their life by the sea and hunting dragons. However, it’s not long before you meet a youth who doesn’t fit in. Hiccup wants to help in the battles, but his temperament and physique aren’t tailored to the rough Viking life. Although he is an assistant to a blacksmith, he’s barely able to pick up the swords and axes they make. He is notorious for misguided inventions. Despite his reputation, in the opening battle, his catapult throws a net that catches a Night Fury.

Night Furies are rare and terrible dragons so mysterious that the books of dragon lore don’t describe them. When Hiccup finds the Night Fury that his net caught, he wields a knife to kill it. Then Hiccup berates himself when he dropped the knife and couldn’t kill the dragon—it was just as frightened as himself. He became even more demoralized and lost hope that he could ever become a real Viking. He was also confident that he couldn’t handle the shame if other villagers knew he couldn’t kill a dragon, so he kept his charge secret.

Soon, Hiccup was pushed to join the other teenagers in dragon hunter training. At first, he struggles to avoid getting burned during the challenges. He also gets in the way of the his classmates. However, the Night Fury teaches Hiccup many things that no Viking ever knew about dragons.

Hiccup’s life changed. With his inventiveness, he gets to experience the freedom of flying through the sky riding the dragon he befriended. The movie shows exhilarating flights through the clouds and exotic cliffs. During one of their flights, Hiccup and the Night Fury find a truly terrifying dragon. That dragon is destined to be the target of the Vikings’ biggest hunt.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010) is a humorous fantasy that offers a story that will be appreciated by an older audience. The Viking that is different and ostracized by the others finds that he can be useful and valued for his differences.

Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse.

a movie reel
I really enjoyed Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse. It was the first movie I ever saw twice in the theater. The second time was fun because I was the only one in the theater.

I’m not a bona fide comic book aficionado by any stretch but I still appreciated the times when the Miles’ thoughts were showing up as literal thought bubbles early on. I also liked that it didn’t take itself too seriously. It was so much fun.

When I was watching the credits and think that the coolest job title was for Michael Dolan as color scientist.

I was looking at buying the movie, also a first that I decided that I wanted a copy of the movie as soon as I saw it. It looks like it takes some care to get access to the special features that are available. Hint, Amazon doesn’t have them. I’ll be streaming it on Vudu.