HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition
HTS Overall Score:98
“Beauty and the Beast” really needs no introduction. It is that famous of the Disney films. There is likely no other film in their entire collection that can bring a happy smile to my face and a wistful tear to my eye than their biggest smash hit ever. It has been the crown jewel of Disney for quite some time and for VERY good reason. Critics have gushed over the film and the music for decades, and it is one of the VERY few animated films to have been nominated for six academy awards, including the highly prestigious “Best Picture” (one of only two animated films in history in fact). Kids adore it, and adults have watched the film ever since its inception. Even my much older mother (she’s in her 70s), who always asks me “why do you watch those kids movie?” can’t help but love “Beauty and the Beast” almost as much as I do. To put it quite simply, it is one of the few films on Earth that I find absolutely perfect. I don’t mean that I haven’t given a 5/5 score before on a movie. There is a certain amount of “slop” in the rating system that means when a film that allows for leniency based upon genre, enjoyment factor etc, but there are VERY few movies in the world that I find absolutely perfect in every way. Disney’s animated version of “Beauty and the Beast” happens to be one of them.
We all know the STORY of “Beauty and the Beast”. It’s not like Disney came up with it and is a unique creation. In fact there are several versions of the old fairy tale out on celluloid that were made years and years before Disney ever thought of it (my favorite being the French Criterion edition). However, very few are as widely loved as this one. Belle (Paige O’Hara) is a young French girl living with her eccentric inventor father. She’s a bit of a bookworm, which gives her a bit of a name amongst the villagers, but this all means nothing to a girl who dreams of something more than just this provincial life. After a wrong turn by her horse, Belle ends up front of a giant castle in the midst of a horrible snow storm. Taking asylum there she soon finds out that she’s not exactly allowed to leave. The castle’s owner is in fact a gigantic beast (voiced by deep throated Robby Benson) who imprisons her there against her will.
The tale IS as old as time, but soon enough Belle and the Beast begin to form a strange friendship (yes, yes, I know. Stockholm syndrome, *grumble *grumble). Belle is the epitome of a kind hearted soul, and the Beast isn’t too bad himself. He’s just been living up here amidst his own sorrows and pain for so long that his interior is matching his exterior. Friendship soon turns to something more and pretty soon the staff of the castle (who are all furniture by the way) are on the tips of their toes with excitement. You see, the reason that the Beast is in this mode, and the reason his staff are all living furniture is based on a curse. A curse by a witch who saw the young man’s unkindness to humanity, and cursed his entire estate to live like thus until his 21st birthday, when he would have to live like this the rest of his life, unless he found someone who could love him just the way he was.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=80098[/img]After this many years and this many viewings (I’ve seen it at least once a year for the last 20 years, sometimes multiple) I’m still in awe at how much I enjoy the film. It’s the epitome of Disney perfection. I don’t think even Disney new how big of a hit this was going to be, especially considering the fact that the 90’s was right about the time that Disney started into the Bronze age of their filmmaking (which is sadly their weakest point in their entire history). It is just that right blend of classic Disney and modern Disney that struck all of the proper chords amongst viewers and critics alike. Despite some oddities in the storytelling (how did a PRINCE and a full CASTLE get lost in just one or two decades? And how did people forget about something that big? Not to mention the Stockholm syndrome that seems to be prevalent in this storyline vs. the original), “Beauty and the Beast” is a charming film filled with an all-star cast that is just as relevant and exciting today as it was 25 years ago (which I still can’t get over because I remember when it first came out. Something tells myself that I can’t keep saying “you’re not old” to myself for much longer).
Everything from the animation to the characters are set up flawlessly. The castle, the little village, EVERYTHING is simply gorgeous and animated beautifully. The characters are a welcome addition from the traditional talking animals that Disney is most famous for. Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, EVERYONE is spot on perfect for their roles. The Beast is a hulking monstrosity with a sense of humanity to his voice (although everyone in their sane mind prefers him as the beast to the almost simpering and limp wristed version they made him into in his human form), and the biggest oddities in the entire script are the ACTUAL villains. Gaston is a huge, lumbering beast of a man (probably intended) who’s biggest flaw is the fact that he’s a repulsive, disgustingly arrogant, and evil scumbag. Which is exactly what he’s meant to be. Every character, whether they are simple and nuanced, or brazen and brash, work together flawlessly to create a masterful film that has survived 25 years, and will probably be hailed as a classic in 25 more.
Rated G for General Audiences by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=80106[/img]While I can’t be 100% sure, I’m almost dead certain that this is the exact same transfer as the 2010 Diamond edition (wow, has it really been six years since this came out on Blu-ray the first time?). Which is not a knock on the video quality in the least. It’s a stunning transfer from beginning to end and look GORGEOUS on Blu-ray. It’s a transfer that’s been used as a demo disc in my household for the last 6 years, and will for years to come as well. Rich colors abound all over the place, with almost neon pink reds for the all famous wilting flower, blues on the Belle’s dress, the cheery earth tones for the landscape and every color in between. Detail is immaculate, and the animation quality superb. I honestly could gush for hours, but this is one gorgeous looking disc! Every line, every curve, every bit of animated background comes to life in one of the best animated Disney films to date. I love the new digital animation films coming out today, but there is just something unmistakably lovely about a classic hand drawn film. Especially one as iconic as “Beauty and the Beast”
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=80114[/img]Again, same 7.1 DTS-HD MA track on board this disc, and again, this is not a bad thing in the slightest. I hate to say it, but “Beauty and the Beast” has a perfect track. Invigorating and exciting, the musical film is filled to the brim with memorable songs that literally swell to the audio channels with rich, luscious sound. The surrounds are fully activated throughout the movie, whether that be from all of the musical numbers, or the little nuances that fill the dark and dank palace where the Beast makes his home. Or the tavern where Gaston is grumbling about Belle, while the townsfolk mumble in the background. LFE is deep and throaty, just littering the film with all sorts of activity from horse’s hooves, to the crack of lightning during the final encounter with the beast. Dialog is crystal clear and perfectly balanced, and really. I don’t have to say anymore. This is just a picture perfect track.
• Audio Commentary with Directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, Producer Dan Hahn and Composer Alan Menken (Extended Cut Only)
• Always Belle
• Menken & Friends: 25 Years Of Musical Inspiration
• #1074: Walt, Fairy Tales & Beauty And The Beast
• The Recording Sessions
• 25 Fun Facts About Beauty And The Beast
• Beauty And The Beast Sneak Peek
• Song Selection
• Classic Bonus Preview
• Digital Copy which allows streaming options for all the special features from the previous edition
“Beauty and the Beast” almost needs no introduction, but it’s a handy thing to have, especially when there are two differing editions out there. For those of you who are wondering if it is worth an upgrade from the Diamond Edition, I would have to say no. Some of the extras that are on the Diamond Edition are streaming only here, and anything new isn’t that big a deal. HOWEVER, this is the blessing and curse of the Disney vault. “Beauty and the Beast” has been in said vault for a few years now and there are quite a few people who couldn’t pick it up except for exorbitant scalper prices on amazon or ebay. This is easily the definitive edition of the film that is in print and for those who haven’t, now is the time to grab it before the movie goes back in the vault a second time. Perfect audio, perfect video, and a downright perfect film makes it a must have for those who have never grabbed the Diamond Edition. Sadly there is no 3D, but with the falling sales of 3D in general, it’s not surprising in the slightest.
Starring: Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Jessi Corti
Directed by: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Written by: Linda Woolverton, Brenda Chapman
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, Spanish, French DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Visa
Runtime: 92 Minutes (2 cuts)
Blu-ray Release Date: Sept 20th, 2016
Buy Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Must Own
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