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Beauty And The Beast (Blu-ray Review)

Since the emergence of the billion dollar box office smash Alice In Wonderland from director Tim Burton, Disney has been going down the list of its animated classics and adapting them into live action blockbusters. Some better than others (Malificent-blah, Jungle Book-wow, amazing!), but very much these films are sure to attract an audience and big bucks. There was no more sure fire success than their best picture nominated animated classic take on Beauty and the Beast. Double that excitement with the casting of Emma Watson and maybe the director of the final Twilight films, Bill Condon (Let’s not forget he did the second Candyman film) and there is no surprise that the film took the globe by sheer force. It now comes to Blu-ray June 6th, you can “be our guest” and pre-order a copy below which not only lands it on your doorstep day of release, but it puts a smile on my face.

Film 

Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast’s hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.

Good news! Beauty and the Beast is a pretty faithful and pretty eye opening animated to live action adaptation of the original Walt Disney cartoon. That’s probably enough and then some for most. The bit of sour news, is that while this makes a little depth addition here and there, its pretty much a carbon copy of the cartoon that most people have ingrained in their brains. The songs, the beats, the scenes, the dialogue, the action all feels very familiar to where you’ve never seen this movie before and you might be mouthing lines of dialogue before they happen. No, its not a bad movie, its just one that doesn’t really have anything to say that the animated one didn’t already strongly tell us the first tine.

Though, it is a marvel to watch a lot of this come to life. Its brought that way by quite a stellar little cast here with a lot of familiar vocal cameos in the house objects. Emma Watson is terrific as Belle, bringing her usual powerful gusto with every moment. Dan Stevens is a fine beast. But, its Luke Evans who really steals this movie. He’s that villain you love to hate, but you almost can’t stop giggling at this guy. Whereas before you couldn’t wait for Gaston to leave, here you welcome the scenes he appears in (With some fun support from Josh Gad, too). Oh, lets not forget to mention that in one month, movies with Luke Evans grossed over 2 billion dollars worldwide (True story).

Another triumph for the film is the insanely beautiful levels of production design on the film. From the costumes to the sets to the visual effects, this film should put a nice dent in technical Academy Award nominations next year. Things look absolutely beautiful with plenty of color and a real nice palette to go off of.  Everything really fits this world and also looks natural as it can, avoiding a sort of stagey look or one that looks something too much out of fantasy (But still fantastic). Its a good vibe that it really sets its own sort of tone and fully realizes it for its cinematic proceedings.

Despite my little grobbling, Beauty and the Beast truly does deliver in what I imagine most were wanting this movie to be. Its rather safe and doesn’t take many chances, which is okay. As a person engulfed in film, that’s where my little qualms like seeing stuff I can’t imagine or haven’t seen done before. However, this story is surely enjoyable and the performances are very fun with fantastic set and costume design. Its the full package and just look no further than the massive dollars being thrown at this movie, people love it.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Beauty and the Beast drops with a big, bright, bold image. Its a crisp, sharp look that looks lovely and pristine. The moment the the first musical number begins, you’re just in a sea of rich, beautiful fantasy goodness. Its sharp and rife with details lifting it right off the screen.  The CGI holds up very well coming home as it looks right at home at one with the live action elements. Clothing patterns and textures as well as the definition on the stair rails, bricks, marble tile and more look outstanding.

Depth:  A lot of the camera swoops and movements to go along with some of the CGI in the movie look three dimensional in appearance and give a real separation and free appearance. Character movements are smooth and cinematic with no blurring or juttering issues at all.

Black Levels: Blacks are rich and deep with wonderful definition. Shadowing looks great and hides no information that wasn’t seen to begin with. Some of the darker scenes and in the big scary woods are well defined and absolutely beautiful in appearance. No crushing witnessed in the viewing for this film.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite beautiful in this image, and that should come as no surprise. Blues are bright and rich be it on clothing or in the sky. The red of the tiled floor is bold and rich and yellows come on strong. Vibrant moments like fired and the magical flower are well displayed here.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the film with a hint of being cooler in spots. Facial features like stubble, make-up, lip texture, wrinkles, lines, blemishes and more really stand out in medium and close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Beauty and the Beast’s 7.1 mix is a really pronounced and lively experience. From musical numbers to action moments, this one really lifts off and captivates your viewing area. Its strong and pronounced with a great weave and balance between the crisp, layered special effects, vocals and front and center music and score. Beauty and the Beast is a full piece of theater with incredibly realized environments that make for a living situation within your living room.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Thunder, horse clip clopping, the beast stomping, doors slamming, the roof collapsing and the brawl at the end are some of the things that make the subwoofer really boom.

Surround Sound Presentation: At times the mix can crutch a little bit more to the front, but the rear and sides are used for creative ambiance to fill the room. The rears will have birds and such at times. During the final battle and more crowded interiors (Like “Gaston”) you get a feel for what’s to your sides and behind you. Movements are also accurately choreographed as well as the volume placement matching distances.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp, clear and clean with real great attention to actor diction. The vocals for both the singing and dialogue are woven very impressively without skipping much of a beat between them (It sounds really natural).

Extras 

Beauty and the Beast comes with the DVD edition and an UltraViolet digital copy of the film.

Play Movie With Overture (HD, 3:06) – The overture features a dark snowy pictures that features very close up imagery of places in the film.

Play Movie With Sing-A-Long – Exactly as it says. You, too can be Gaston with this version.

Enchanted Table Read (HD, 13:31) – Features highlights and talking heads commentary from the elaborate table read that featured full on dance numbers, art hanging on the wall. It was a big and energetic production in itself.

A Beauty Of A Tale (HD, 27:08) – Cast and crew discuss why they loved the project and take us really through the making of with plenty of anecdotes about certain aspects and moments of the film along the way.

The Women Behind Beauty And The Beast (HD, 5:17) – Emma Watson introduces a lot of the women behind the scenes of the film, who were many of the heads of department who then talk about their work on the film and their feelings on what their job entails.

From Song To Screen: Making The Musical Sequences (HD, 13:26) – Covers the making of “Belle”, “Be Our Guest”, “Gaston” and “Beauty and the Beast” with interviews, behind the scenes footage, rehearsal footage and previsualation art and video imaging.

Extended Song: “Days In The Sun” With Introduction By Bill Condon (HD, 4:08) – Bill mentions it was reshot because of the mother actress resemble the enchantress too much, which meant 2 people were recast.

Deleted Scenes With Introduction By Bill Condon (HD, 6:23) 

Making A Moment With Celine Dion (HD, 3:24) – The legendary singer reflects on her work on the original film and her contribution of a new song to this one (Which was emotional for her, because her husband helped make the decision to do the first one).

“Beauty And The Beast” Music Video By Ariana Grande And John Legend (HD, 4:02) 

Making The Music Video: “Beauty And The Beast” (HD, 2:07) – Some behind the scenes footage with interviews from John Legend and Ariana Grande.

Disney Song Selection (HD, 33:09) – “Belle”, “How Does A Moment Last Forever” (Music Box), “Belle” (Reprise), “Gaston”, “Be Our Guest”, “Days In The Sun”, “Something There”, “How Does A Moment Last Forever” (Montmartre), “Beauty and the Beast”, “Evermore”, “The Mob Song”, “Beauty and the Beast” (Finale)

Summary 

Beauty and the Beast is a fine companion to the animated classic and a subservient enough film in its own right to please newcomers. This Blu-ray gives the usual fine Disney presentation with very detailed visuals to go with a wonderfully realized audio mix. Its also got a nice load of extras to keep you busy with the disc for a little while after the film. A definite pick up to add to your collection.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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