'Beauty and the Beast' a real gem

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Film Critic

I'll admit, as a consumer, it can get overwhelming and sometimes send one into a fury when a studio continues to re-release "updated" versions of its films. Most of the time they slap some quickly made extra features on it, wrap in new packaging and throw it on shelves hoping to make a buck. However, there are a few studios that do it right and Disney has to be at the top of that list.

Sure we've gotten a wide array of versions of Disney classics, but when Disney touches something, it turns to gold -- or in this case diamond. The studio just released the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack of "Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition" and even if you own the film, you must get to a store nearest you and pick up the new set.

"Beauty and the Beast", the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, is a grand tale and Blu-ray only makes it better. The presentation is clean and crisp and Disney never ceases to amaze with their ability to make the old look new again.

The disc has some many special features you might want to take a long weekend, curl up on the couch and turn the ringer off on your phone. "Beast" features extra goodies such as three versions of the film (original theatrical release, special extended edition and an original storyboard version), awesome behind-the-scenes featurette, interactive games, an alternate opening to the film and a cool deleted scene.

Also featured are an interesting audio commentary with co-directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise and producer Don Hahn, a video by Jordin Sparks singing the film's title track and my personal favorite of the set, the sing-along mode. When you have two young daughters, there's nothing better than pretending you're Gaston to their Belle and belting out a few familiar tunes.

Disney once again hits a home run, and as much as I hate to see people buy a film over and over, this studio is one of the few that actually produces a product that's worthy of our hard earned dollars and I wouldn't hesitate to buy again and again. The only thing I could do without is the trend to have popular musicians try their hand at familiar Disney tunes. It's not something that adds much to the experience.

Final Cut: There's not much more you can say about the film itself. As the song says, it's a tale as old as time, but one thing is for sure; the diamond edition is a gem that belongs in everyone's entertainment library. The extra features alone make this a must have treasure.

5 out of 5 stars

Beauty and the Beast

Starring: Paige O'Hara, Robbie Benson, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Hal Smith

Director: Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale