Cover Art and Menus: 9/10
The cover for the Diamond Edition of Beauty and the Beast is pretty good, with all of the main characters appearing. It is magical and happy, which works for this movie for sure. The menu was stunning, with a moving shot of the inside of the castle, complete with interaction from many of the magical household appliances, who were turned from humans into speaking, moving brooms and candlesticks. The menu is fluid and interactive and wonderful.
- 3 Versions Of The Film – Talk about inclusion! Disney has included the theatrical version, a version that includes an extra “Human Again”sequence where the crew sings about what they will do if and when they are ever changed back to being their old, human selves, and then a version of the movie where a pop-up scene talks about various aspects of the story and the movie itself. A very inclusive list here, and I really liked the extended version with the Human Again song adding some more depth to the talking household appliances.
- Disney Sing Along Mode – Disney includes a sing along mode, for those who like to have a go at some of the movies better known songs. Not my cup of tea, but this could be fun for some musically talented familes, unlike my own.
- Audio Commentary – We also get a a commentary from directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trudeau, as well as producer Don Hahn, all of whom were involved in the development of this 1991 Disney classic. Along with a special appearance from musical composer Alan Menken, they do a great job of keeping the commentary on track and somewhat lively.
- Composing A Classic – This feature includes the background of getting the movie made, as it was originally a Broadway classic. The feature includes composer Alan Menken, Don Hahn, and a Diney officianado Richard Kraft, as they break down the journey from the stage to the screen.
- Broadway Beginnings – This is a rather strange inclusion in my opinion, of interviews and memories from various stars who appeared in the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast, and how the musical and story have affected their lives. We get interviews with Donny Osmond, Debbie Gibson, and even Joe Jonas.
- All New Music Video – There is a short music video brom Jordin Sparks, who was an American Idol contestant, singing Beauty and the Beast, with clips from the movie intersperced with shots of Jordin Sparks singing. Disney loves these remakes and I just wonder if they will hold up, as a lot of the younger stars who they pick to do the songs may not have the same longevity as the movies themselves. In 20 years are we going to remember who ordin Sparks was? Ah, but I digress, as the song is well done by the young singer.
- Alternate Opening – A very long alternate opening sequence is included here complete with an introduction. The scene is too long in my opinion, and we only get to see the incomplete version, but it is worth a watch.
- Deleted Scene – A second deleted scene is offered up here, which is for “Belle in the Library.” In this 9 minute scene that was only ever storyboarded, we get to see Belle interact with 4 other characters who were once human.
- Beyond Beauty The Untold Story – This is a magnificient 2.5 hour piece that goes into massive depth about the movie itself. It is featured on a second Blu-ray disk, and is presented in high definition. You are given the opportunity to chose different scenes to watch, and the overall experience is incredible. The expansive material includes the original version of “Be Our Guest” as well as storyboards and a background story about the first time that they attempted to make Beauty and the Beast into a feature lenght movie. Truly an incredible feature.
- Enchanted Musical Challenge Game – Again, another musical triva game. These are great for kids, if you can get them to play, but in the world of Nintendo and Playstation games, these just don’t have enough zing for my son to want to play, when he can grab a Mario game for his DSi and be engorssed in action a minute later.
- Bonjour, Who Is This Game – This is a BD-Live trivia game, which is just so-so.
- All DVD Features From Classic Release – The DVD version of the movie also includes the 3 seperate versions of the movie, and all of the original extras from the DVD release. The Diamond Edition is really an expansive presentation with everything but the kitchen sink included (except for a digital version of the movie.)
The Movie: 9/10
Often time I wonder if my memory of certain films lives up to the reality. In the case of Disney movies, and this one in particular, my memory of a movie that came out in 1991 was nowhere near the reality of the movie. In this case, the movie was far better than I remembered, which doesn’t always happen. Beauty and the Beast originally came out in 1991, when as a younger lad (the ripe college age of 21) I really did not have much interaction or reason to check out the release. I had no ties whatsoever to the movie, and while I know that I saw the release at some point, the real memory that I have of the movie is the Angela Lansbury song for the title, and “Be Our Guest,” which is both surprisingly catchy and surprisingly annoying all at once.
It was not until many years later when I happened upon my future wife and her 5 year-old daughter (now my step-daughter) who both just happened to be in love with the movie, that I got to see the movie for what it was. It truly is a magnificient story mixed with anger and laughter, with a great mix of characters and music. After not seeing the movie for so long, I truly was able to enjoy the movie again, with all of its high definition glory, in the Diamond Edition release from Disney.
The story is a simple one, that starts off in the movie being told through the use of a voice-over and stained glass, kind of in the same vein as Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. A young prince who refuses to allow a haggard old woman shelter in his castle during a storm is turned into a beast by the woman, who is in fact a beautiful witch. Everyone and everything in his castle is transformed, and the prince is destined to stay a hideous beast unless he can fall in love with a female who can also fall in love with the prince, even though his outward appearance is detestable. Only by finding his inner beauty, and allowing another to find the same, can the prince and his castle be transformed back, but he only has until the last petal on the enchanted rose, given to him by the witch, falls on his 21st birthday.
Enter Belle, who is the daughter of an inventor. Belle is viewed by the local French townspeople as somewhat odd, if not beautiful. She loves to read and clearly loves her eccentric father, regardless of what the townspeople think. She is truly dreaming of getting out of her provincial surroundings, and when her father gets lost on his way to a fair, to show off his invention, Belle arrives at the castle where the prince has captured her father. A trade is made where Belle agrees to stay with the beastly prince in exchange for her father’s release. The beautiful Belle, who has already attracted the attention of the town’s local narcissist Gaston, tries to settle into a seemingly dull life as captive of the prince, when she learns all about the other enchanted aspects of the castle, including a candlestick Lumiere, and many other wonderful little characters who are just as trapped as Belle, as they are doomed to live life as household appliances unless the prince can break the spell and get Belle to fall in love with him. As the two grow together, the story unwinds and changes, and the overall effect is really well done.
The video presentation here is stunning, and even though the movie for me seems more like a classic Disney tale like Sleeping Beauty, as opposed to the newer fare like Lion King, the 1991 movie is great. There is a lovely mix of humor and darkness, and a decent mix of music and story here. It feels like it is an older Disney classic, but the use of newer animation techniques, as well as a visual sharpness both indicate that this movie is part of the newer genearation of Disney classics.
Beauty and the Beast is a great Disney release, and one for the ages. It is another in a long line of amazing stories that Disney has given us, and to see it again, as an older adult (basically not a college aged male with other things on his mind) is truly amazing. Beauty and the Beast is a gem of a movie, and can be enjoyed by all.
Audio & Video: 9/10
The audio and video for the Diamond Edition are just about as close to perfect as you can get. Disney really knows how to nail down the details for their Blu-ray presentations, and Beauty and the Beast is no exception. The 1.78:1 widescreen presentation is super sharp, and the colors are wonderful. From the opening scene where the pre-story is told in stained glass, the hyper-colors and dizzying sharpness are apparent. This truly looks phenomenal. The same can be said for the DTS-HD 7.1 Surround Sound audio. The beauty is in the songs, but the overall mix is quite well done, with my only gripe being the seemingly non-existent use of the rear speakers in some sections where I would have expected more surround. That is a very, very small gripe, as I think it is complete nit-picking, but I did indicate the absence in my notes, even though I thought overall the mix was stellar.
The Diamond Editions are really some of the most expansive Disney collections, and the amount of material and goodies is staggering. If you are a collector of Disney on Blu-ray, these editions are hard to pass up. They truly seem to include everything. As with most Disney movies, the movies themselves are impressive, and the combination of the great film with such a complete package is hard to pass up.
Overall Score 9/10