Friday, October 15, 2010

Beauty and the Beast Blu-ray Review

Disc 1 Size: 40.1 GB
Disc 2 Size: 39.8 GB
Film Rating: G
Release Date: October 5th, 2010
Region: ABC
The Video
Beauty and the Beast’ comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation, including both the theatrical and extended versions of the film via seamless branching. The storyreel version is also included via a Picture-in-Picture viewing option.

Not to anyone’s surprise, the video presentation makes for perfect demo material. Disney has always done an amazing job with their classic titles on Blu-ray and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ especially benefits from being one of their latter produced classics.

I always thought the DVD release looked decent, particularly when upconverted. Going back and revisiting the DVD prior to the new Blu-ray release was certainly awakening however. The DVD release really looks terrible when compared, there is no competition whatsoever. It has been a couple of years at least since I last saw ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ but I don’t know how I actually tolerated the DVD now.

The Blu-ray release does look amazing, but we have the fantastic animators to thank for that. The film is one I have been waiting for a high-def release for years and I have to say the Blu-ray release went above and beyond anything I could have expected.

The colors are rich, lively and will possibly make your jaw drop. I was in awe, particularly during the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ ballroom sequence, which also benefited from the CGI effects (dated effects, but looks great in high-def regardless).

Some may feel the video presentation is a bit too cleaned up, whether the cleaning was drastic or minimal, I do think Disney did a fantastic job in cleaning it up without any notable loss of detail or quality. I wish other studios would take note, rather than carelessly applying DNR and creating a waxy experience with notable loss of detail.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ has never looked so amazing. This is one Blu-ray release that every Blu-ray doubter should check out. If this Blu-ray release doesn’t make you want to upgrade, I don’t know what will. I was very excited for this Blu-ray release with very high expectations since it was announced, but even I found myself in awe by the glory that is ‘Beauty and the Beast’ on high-definition Blu-ray. 10/10.

The Audio
An English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included. French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks are also included. Optional subtitles include English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

Disney classics have definitely benefited from lossless audio tracks and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is no different. Like previous classic releases, Disney has included a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio that manages to make use of the surround speakers in an impressive and effective way.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ features plenty of musical numbers which make for terrific audio experiences. Audio experiences which will make use of your entire surround setup, without ever sounding out of place or distracting.

The music isn’t the only thing that benefits from the 7.1 lossless mix. Dialogue also impresses at all times, never sounding so clear before. The film’s dialogue does benefit from being recorded in-studio, assuring clarity throughout.

The film’s audio effects also make good use of the surround speakers, nothing is limited to a certain area of your theater and it really creates an immersive audio experience. I cannot rave enough about the audio mix, particularly for a film which will soon be 20 years old. 10/10.

The Extras

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc):

Composing A Classic (20:18) (HD)
A musical conversation with Alan Menken, Don Hahn & Richard Kraft.

Deleted Scenes (HD)
Alternate Story Open (with optional introduction by Peter Schneider)
Bell in the Library (with optional introduction by Roger Allers)

Broadway Beginnings (13:08) (HD)
Former cast members from the stage adaptation of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ share memories from working on the production as well as previous theatrical experience.

Music Video (3:26) (HD)
Jordin Sparks – “Beauty and the Beast”

BD-Live Portal
Download the latest trailers from Walt Disney Home Entertainment via your BD-Live connected Blu-ray player.

Disc 2 (Blu-ray Disc):

Beyond Beauty (HD)
The untold stories behind the making of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ This is an extensive look at the film’s production with an incredible amount of content to see. I didn’t keep track of run-times, but I am quite certain over two hours of content is included via this feature. Everything is in high-definition and looks fantastic.

Enchanted Musical Challenge (Game)
A Disney Quest game.

Bonjour, Who Is This? (Game)
A Disney Teleplay game, powered by BD-Live.

Classic DVD Bonus Features (SD)
The Story behind the Story
Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson - “Beauty and the Beast” Music Video
Early Presentation Reel
Alternate Version: “Be Our Guest”
Alternate Score: “The Transformation”
Deleted Song
Camera Move Test
Trailers & TV Spots

BD-Live Portal
Download the latest trailers from Walt Disney Home Entertainment via your BD-Live connected Blu-ray player.

Disc 3 (DVD):

DVD copy of the film
Includes all 3 versions of the film included on the Blu-ray release, as well as a selection of extras found on the Blu-ray discs.

At the time of writing, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ features two different packaging options. The packaging options are either a Blu-ray or DVD case version of the release. Both releases feature the same content, 2 Blu-ray discs and one DVD. A standalone DVD release is set for November, but don’t wait, buy the combo pack because you will regret it in a few years when you do buy a Blu-ray player and the Blu-ray release is no longer available in stores.

I am very impressed by the extras included on this release, there is so much to see despite it looking limited in the menus. The ‘Beyond Beauty’ feature found on disc 2 is one of my favorite new features and will impress any viewer. There is so much content to be seen and the addition of the DVD version of the film is a major plus. Disney definitely put some serious effort into this release and I definitely applaud them for that. 10/10.

The Movie
Disney has always been a leader in animation and impressive storytelling, stories which can be enjoyed by viewers of all ages. I love all of their classic films, but I always find myself in awe of their 1991 accomplishment, ‘Beauty and the Beast.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is one of Disney’s latter classics, which received critical acclaim and was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. The film didn’t win, but it has managed to become one of Disney’s most successful films and stories.

The film does feature a great story, but the characters and musical numbers really make the film what it is. The ballroom sequence is certainly one of the most popular sequences ever in a Disney film, it was a technical accomplishment at the time which looks beautiful and adds so much heart to the film.

Songs like ‘Be Our Guest’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ help make this film memorable as well. The character Belle is a much more modern princess as well. Her character is brave and outgoing, ultimately seeking love but not necessarily waiting for her princess charming to come rescue her.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is the type of film I had hoped Disney’s recent film ‘The Princess and the Frog’ would have been. The film is very good, don’t get me wrong, but it just doesn’t have the magic that is found in films like ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ The characters are generally fun and the story is enjoyable, but the music just doesn’t cut it for me.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ is one of my favorite Disney films and watching it on Blu-ray actually made me love it even more. The film holds up extremely well and will be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. It has been quite some time since the previous DVD release.

If your children have not had the opportunity to see the film before, run, don’t walk to pick up the Blu-ray release. Walt Disney had long passed when ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was produced, but I have no doubt in my mind that the film would be one of his proudest accomplishments, capturing the magic that made Disney the studio it is today. 10/10.

The Blu-news Summary
‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a classic Disney film which deserves all the praise it receives. The Blu-ray release is jaw dropping, featuring a demo quality experience in every aspect. The video presentation is stunning, the audio is immersive and the extras are extensive. ‘A Must Own.

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