By Allison Hazlett-Rose
Sep 23, 2016 01:53 PM EST

Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

By Disney standards, Beauty and the Beast is a standout.  The hour and a half movie has it all.
Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review
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It's hard to believe it's been twenty-five years since Beauty and the Beast came to theaters.  With its romantic story and beautiful music, it is what we think of as "Classic Disney" and even these many years later, it still holds up.  It's no wonder there is a live action version set for next year. But, until then, we will have to be content with watching the original film on Blu-ray and DVD and for the film's 25th anniversary, Disney has released a special edition Blu-ray in stores now.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, Belle (Paige O'Hara; Enchanted) is a sweet young woman who enjoys reading books and lives in a provincial French town with her father (Rex Everhart; Friday the 13th).  When her father gets lost and wanders into a forbidden castle, Belle goes to rescue him and ends up taking his place, agreeing to stay forever with the Beast (Robbie Benson; Ice Castles) who lives in the castle.  The beast is really a handsome prince who was cursed by an evil witch and he must find true love by his 21st birthday or remained cursed.

By Disney standards, this film is a standout.  The hour and a half movie has it all.  A beautiful young lady, an unconventional suitor, an obnoxious antagonist and some great songs that have become recognizable all over the world.  Of course, no Disney film would be complete without a happy ending as well as a beautiful ball gown so those are thrown in as well.  This movie originally came out during a resurgence of Disney's animated greatness, so the quality of work is certainly there in every frame.

This latest version of the film is fantastic in the 1080p high definition Blu-ray quality video.  It offers a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which is a slight change from the original 1.85:1 ratio.  The sharpness of the characters is amazing and the colors in each frame are spectacular.  However, the contrast between the main characters and the background village and woods is drastic and was a little off putting and distracting.  Of course, watching it on a high quality television helped make the difference even more pronounced, but also made it much more enjoyable as well.

The DTS-HD master 7.1 audio really accentuated the incredible soundtrack and orchestration.  The mix between dialogue and music was well done and the music hit all the high points nicely. The songwriting was certainly excellent as evidenced by the terrific songs to have come from the film and the high quality Blu-ray presented the them beautifully.   The crescendos were full and robust and enhanced the viewing experience.  Many times the film is merely a vehicle to show off the music and this version of the disc does that expertly.  One could even close their eyes, simply listen, and still enjoy the film.

While this Blu-ray combo pack has several extras, the featured extra is certainly a treat for any Disney musical fan.  Menken & Friends: 25 Years of Musical Inspiration is a 19 minute "session" with Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana), Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Frozen) during which they reminisce about the Music of the film and their own experiences with it.

 Other features include Always Belle in which Paige O'Hara discusses the role, Beauty and the Beast Sneak Peak – a look at the upcoming live action version of the film and The Recording Sessions - a look at the original recording session and how it assisted animators to draw the characters.  There are also some digital only features, some of which were previously released and some of which are new additions (mainly the character development of many of the characters in the film).

Beauty and the Beast is an outstanding movie that can be enjoyed together by multiple generations of families.  It is incredibly well done with music that stands the test of time.  If you don't already own it, you should. The 25th anniversary special edition Blu-ray is a perfect excuse to go out and buy it now.

Grade: A-


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