By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
Beauty and the Beast
It's been so long since I've seen Disney's Beauty and the Beast that I was excited to hear that I would be getting a copy of the film's release to Blu-ray. I didn't know what to expect, but I did remember that I used to greatly enjoy the film and was always impressed with the scope of the animation used in the ballroom dance sequence; which does gain from the help of old school CG. The Blu-ray seems to have taken all the good things that I remembered about the film, and kicked them up a notch.
Beauty and the Beast on Blu-Ray
I watched the Beauty and the Beast Blu-ray on my 32" Sharp Aquos in 1080p. I now wish I watched it on my 52" Panasonic Plasma, as the film's visuals are incredibly beautiful. High contrast and bright colors. While I do admit that it's been a while since I've seen the film on DVD, I did not remember how the film's scenes seem to splash off the pages of some storybook. The settings are vibrant, to say the least, and look almost like a pop-up book in terms of style. When the camera pans, the set pieces (and background) move entirely with a feeling of dimension in mind. All dark areas, including the lines, take advantage of the contrast only 1080p can offer.
The catch about having flatpanel TVs is that it makes me a hard judge for the quality of sound. What I did notice though is that all the dialogue (and singing) is easy to hear -- not always an easy feat on these new-generation TVs -- and never gets drowned out by the music or background noise. I unfortunately had no way to test the film's 7.1 surround track.
When it comes to the special features you will notice that there is both a "Special Edition" and "Theatrical Edition" of the movie. The Special Edition is about seven minutes longer and features an entirely new musical sequence. It's cool, and does show some more relationship-building between Belle and Beast, but will likely be your least favorite song from the film. You also have your deleted scenes and a super-extended behind the scenes featurette that shows tons of cool stuff in a running time longer than the actual film.
And I can't forget the "Sing Along" option, that follows the musical numbers in karaoke fashion.
Beauty and the Beast is a must for any family or collector expanding their Blu-ray collection. This great animation has received a applause-worthy upgrade for today's medium.