Directed by Gary Trousdale
Voices by Robby Benson, Paige O’Hara, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach
Okay, I have to admit this: I am not the biggest fan of Disney films. I like Lady and the Tramp and The Jungle Book. I prefer Pixar films. So, I am a bit a hard sell when it comes to Disney films, especially those of the princess variety or a girl looking for true love. So, what’s my take on Beauty and the Beast?
Belle (Paige O’Hara) is a beautiful girl that lives in a small town. Her father Maurice is an eccentric inventor. Belle loves to read, loves to sing and dance but don’t take her for a mindless twit: she has a tough side.
The town macho man Gaston has had his eye on Belle for a number of years. Problem is no one else is as impressed with Gaston as he is himself. He brags about the massive amounts of food that he eats and spits a lot. Belle is less than impressed.
On day while Maurice is on his way to show off his inventions, he gets lost and finds himself at a remote and strange castle. This is the castle of the Beast (Robby Benson), a formally handsome but cold hearted prince that has had curse placed upon him. Gone are his good looks, he now walks the earth as a Beast. And, his entire staff has been changed into various household objects. The Beast takes Maurice hostage in his castle.
Part of the Beast’s curse is that he has to find true love before the curse can be lifted. It also comes with a magical rose that loses petals: the petals are similar to a ticking clock. When the petals are gone, so is the Beast’s chance to lift the curse.
So, when Belle discovers her father missing, she searches the countryside for him. She locates him in the Beast’s castle and trades her life for that of her fathers.
Despite his terrible appearance, Belle learns that inside of the Beast is a truly loving and gentle being and she begins the process of falling in love with him. Will Belle’s love be enough to break the curse that has haunted The Beast for many years?
The hand drawn animation is absolutely stunning and while the story seems a clichéd, it is executed well and will be perfectly entertaining and charming to dedicated Disney fans, as there are many. This is Disney doing what it does best and doing it effortlessly.
The performances are all solid and who can believe this voice is that of Robby Benson? You are telling me this is the voice of the kid from Ice Castles and One Day at a Time?
Anyway, his voice is pretty fantastic.
So, has this converted me the cult of loving those Disney films where all the pretty girl needs is a man to make complete and a pretty dress? Well, not exactly but Beauty and the Beast is a well executed film on all levels: it is beautifully animated, features catchy songs and has perfect voice casting.
I can see why it received its many Oscar nominations when it was originally released.
So, those of you out there that just swoon at the thought of the Beast and Belle dancing in the ballroom as her yellow gown sways and a swirl, this one is a no brainer.
The 1080P video transfer of the film is absolutely first rate. The film looks incredible: absolutely crisp and vibrant. The color pallete is eye popping and the overall level of detail is highly respectable. Contrast and black levels are great as well. This is what an animated film should look like on Blu Ray.
The audio is presented in a remastered 7.1 Sound Mix and it is fantastic. The dialogue is crystal clear and mixed well with the soundtrack. The sound mix is lively and vibrant and utilizes all speakers in your home theater to its advantage. The roar of the beast has a nice “rumbly” bass. I was thoroughly impressed.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The film is presented in a standard Blu Ray case that encases the two discs with a nice pic of Belle and the Beast on the cover.
Wow, there is an absolute plethora of bonus material on this release. Let’s get started, shall we?
An audio commentary is available on the Special Extended Edition (there are two versions of the film available: Extended and Original Theatrical versions). Directors and producers sit in to discuss the film and Disney’s sparkling reputation in the field of animation. Any Disney fan will enjoy this.
Beyond Beauty is a 175 minute exploration into absolutely everything you could have ever wanted to know about the making of this legendary Disney film and explores extensively thee behind the scenes of this film.
Composing a Classic is a look at composer Alan Menken’s work on the film and over 28 minutes of Deleted Scenes are presented, with introductions by Disney chairperson Peter Schneider.
The Story Behind the Story is a look at several fairy tales and how they were adapted by Disney.
Several Beauty and the Beast music videos are offered.
Early Presentation Reel is a collection of early animation tests and a camera move test as well as a Sing Along Mode.
There are several “Disney Family Play” options here: Broadway Beginnings, Enchanted Musical Challenge, Bonjour, Who Is This? and another Music Video.
Rounding things out are sneak peeks at other upcoming Disney releases.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
The Movie 8/10
The Video 10/10
The Audio 10/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 10/10
Overall ( Not an Average) 9/10