BLU-RAY REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast Diamond Edition
The tale as old as time is new again...
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After the standard 7-year hiatus in the "Disney Vault", Beauty and the Beast makes its triumphant return to home video in the form of a new Blu-ray/DVD 3-disc combo pack. The Beauty and the Beast Diamond Edition takes the much beloved, award-winning Disney classic and presents it like never before in glorious 1080p high-definition and advanced picture restoration that truly brings the eye-popping color and incredible animation to sparkling clarity. The enhanced quality is also present in the soundtrack, with Disney including new 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound to compliment the amazing musical score and enchanting songs that have become staples of the Disney library.
From the moment you press play on your Blu-ray player you will know that you are in for a new experience as Lumiere invites you to "Be Our Guest" as he takes you on a fully rendered CGI tour of Beast's castle while you make your selections from the menu. And much like a fine French restaurant, the menu is full of choices and a variety of ways to experience Beauty and the Beast. First and foremost, both the Blu-ray and DVD offer three versions of the film to view that include the extended edition presentation, the original theatrical presentation, and the Work-In-Progress edition, all of which were previously included on the prior release. There is also a optional Audio Commentary, as well as a Sing Along Mode for those wanting to immerse themselves in the film.
Speaking of the prior DVD release, I wouldn't get rid of that copy just yet or you might regret it. While the new collection boasts a great variety of special features, the original release had many more, including several art galleries, that weren’t carried over. But despite that, the features are quite impressive. Highlights carried over from the DVD include the Celine Dion Music Video, the Early Presentation Reel for the film, the Delete Song "Human Again", an alternate version of "Be Our Guest" and alternate score for The Transformation scene. Also included is the Story Behind The Story featurettes that focus on other classic Disney stories and characters and reveal tidbits of info about the films.
New features exclusive to the Blu-ray release are headed up by the great featurette Beyond Beauty: The Untold Stories Behind Making Beauty that delves into the history of the film. Also included is a new Jordin Sparks music video, two new games, and featurettes on the music and Broadway show. To me the features that are most rewarding are the Deleted Scenes. First and foremost is an extensive Alternate Opening sequence that tells a very different story than the final version and is closer to it's storybook roots with a story that is much more depressing to begin with and that includes characters never seen before including Belle's controlling aunt and adorable little sister. The second scene is an alternate/extended library sequence for Belle that introduces many more characters, but that also adds nothing to the plot of the film.
Disney has shown once again how powerful Blu-ray can be by making a breathtaking film like Beauty and the Beast even more beautiful through high-definition picture. I'm looking forward to the many more Blu-ray presentations that have been announced including Fantasia this fall and Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, Dumbo, and Lion King coming next year. The Beauty and the Beast Diamond Edition 3-Disc Combo Pack is available now for a limited time from Disney Home Entertainment.
And for more Beauty and the Beast fun, check out the various downloadable activities such as games, bookmarks, coloring pages and more by clicking HERE.
Review by Michael Klein