I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Editor
There’s been a huge push from Disney to give all their beloved animated classics live-action updates. While the results have been relatively mixed, everything from the upcoming THE LION KING to ALADDIN is set to empty your pockets and wow your kiddos.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a beautiful synthesis of modern and old-fashioned storytelling. Our heroine, the smart but beautiful Belle (Emma Watson), would normally end up with the equally-as-attractive Gaston (Luke Evans), whose looks have the power to cause the ladies to faint and his bumbling sidekick, LeFou (an excellent Josh Gad), to join in on the swooning.
But this narrative picks from a different rosebush and spins a new kind of romance, one that is progressive and makes its central character headstrong and courageous enough to save her father (Kevin Kline) from the clutches of a big-headed prince-turned-beast (Dan Stevens in a motion-captured performance) by becoming the Beast’s prisoner.
The story in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will always be its strongest aspect, no matter if it’s produced for stage or screen. Where it could fail, however, like it does here, is in its presentation and lack of ability to shape its tale for a new medium. Bill Condon’s live-action retelling looks the part but it hardly feels it, as the pretty actors play dress up for two-hours without giving much reason for their version to exist.
- Courtney Howard’s alternative review: ‘BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’ dazzles, delights and enchants
- Interview: How Alan Menken and Bill Condon wove new songs into the established tapestry of ‘BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’
- Enchanted Table Read – Join the cast for the movie’s elaborately staged table read, complete with singing and dancing to live music, set pieces and more.
- A Beauty of a Tale – Explore the process of transforming a beloved animated film into a new live-action classic.
- The Women Behind BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – Emma Watson introduces several of the talented women in all aspects of production who helped bring this enchanted tale to life.
- Making a Moment with Celine Dion – Celine Dion shares what it’s like to sing “How Does a Moment Last Forever” – and be a part of the legacy of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
- From Song to Screen: Making the Musical Sequences – See what goes into making some of the best-known moments from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST:
- “Belle” – Filmmakers and cast reveal how it felt to shoot this memorable scene.
- “Be Our Guest” – Discover all that went into creating this epic, primarily virtual performance.
- “Gaston” – Join the cast for rehearsals and filming of this rousing, high-energy number.
- “Beauty and the Beast” – You’re invited on set for the filming of this beloved, classic scene.
- Deleted Scenes
- Introduction by director Bill Condon – Condon presents a collection of scenes that, for one reason or another, ended up on the cutting-room floor.
- Gaston Courts Belle – Pleased with himself after settling a disturbance with the townspeople, a triumphant Gaston attempts to woo Belle.
- Bread and Jam for Agathe – On her morning market rounds, Belle stops by to see Agathe, the village beggar woman.
- Storming the Ice Gates – The angry mob of villagers, led by Gaston, overwhelms the castle’s defenses.
- Lumière Torches LeFou – As the fight rages around them, LeFou scuffles with Plumette … until he experiences a sudden, extremely heated interruption.
- Monsieur Toilette – LeFou escapes from the brawl into a small room, where he’s startled by a castle resident.
- Cogsworth Rescues Lumière – When Clothilde the fishmonger threatens Lumière, Cogsworth leaps into the fray.
- Treacle the Lasses – Three village lasses chase Chip and Froufrou – Madame Garderobe’s dog-turned-footstool – into the kitchen, where a surprise awaits.
- LeFou and Monsieur Toilette Reunite – After the spell is broken and the castle residents are returned to human form, LeFou and his new acquaintance meet again.
- Extended Song: “Days in the Sun” – Learn more about Beast’s childhood in an alternate version of this beautiful song, introduced by director Bill Condon.
- “Beauty and the Beast” Music Video – Award-winning artists Ariana Grande and John Legend perform a moving version of this iconic song.
- Making the Music Video – Go on set to capture the magic as it happens in Ariana Grande and John Legend’s “Beauty and the Beast” music video.“Beauty and the Beast” Disney Song Selection – Jump directly to all your favorite songs and sing along with the movie.
BAMBI (1942): Anniversary Collection
Rated G, 69 minutes.
Director: James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, David Hand, Graham Heid, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield and Norman Wright
Voice Cast: Hardie Albright, Sam Edwards, Ann Gillis and Otis Harlan
Available today on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.
Supposedly Disney is cooking up a live-action version of this . (Hopefully it doesn’t star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the titular deer like SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE’s hilarious skit.) But for now, the House of Mouse is opening their vault again for BAMBI’s 75th birthday.
Everyone has his or her own unique story for watching this animated classic. At 4, it was a moving story that made me appreciate my mother and respect those around me even more. This is the beauty of Disney’s storytelling: Each of their films contains important lessons that we often carry for the rest of our lives. With today’s movies more centered on entertainment over educational value, why not pick BAMBI up on the way home and cherish it all over again by sharing it with those you love?
- New Extras:
- The Bambi Effect – Bambi was full of innovations for its time. Let’s take a look at how those past innovations affected future Disney animated titles all the way up to today.
- Studio Stories: Bambi – Recordings of Walt Disney. Listen in on intimate moments where he discusses the challenges, pitfalls and triumphs during the production of Bambi.
- Deleted Scene: Bambi’s Ice and Snow – Bambi coaxes Thumper and his brothers and sisters to come play on the ice during the first snow.
- Deleted Scene: The Grasshopper – A grasshopper confronts Bambi and Thumper and finds himself in quite a predicament.
- Bambi Fawn Facts – Think you know everything there is to know about Bambi and his forest companions? Well, it’s time to discover some fun real-life facts about the creatures that live in the forest he calls home.
- Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: Africa Before Dark Oswald Animated Short.
- Classic Extras:
- Deleted Scenes – Two Leaves, Bambi Stuck on a Reed, Winter Grass, Twitterpated
- The Making of Bambi: A Prince is Born
- Trick of the Trade (Excerpt)
- Inside the Disney Archives
- The Old Mill Animated Short
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- The Golden Age