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3D Blu-ray Reviews

Beauty and the Beast 3D Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 12 Matt Hough

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Posted September 27 2011 - 09:25 AM

From its opening song to its closing waltz, Beauty and the Beast is a perfect piece of screen entertainment: a charming (though definitely not cloying), stylish, and interesting version of Mme. LePrince de Beaumont's 18th century fairy tale. It may not have the darkness and bittersweet melancholy of Jean Cocteau's 1946 live-action version (made in Paris when the war debt made filmmaking in France an ordeal comparable to Reconstruction), but it's nevertheless a stunning and altogether delightful motion picture achievement. It's saying something when an animated cartoon contains all of the elements of a successful film in perfect proportion, something that very few live action films seem able to manage: Beauty and the Beast is alive with spectacle, comedy, and romance, its music is abounding with color, spirit, insight, humor, and warmth, and it's as finely and precisely acted and directed a movie as any live action feature. Beauty and the Beast is, quite frankly, one of the greatest animated films ever made. Its latest edition, a 3D conversion of the original film (“Human Again” is not a part of this 3D conversion), adds some depth and complexity to the visuals without drawing undue attention to the added dimension in the picture. Whether in 2D or 3D, there are few films more gratifying to watch than this one.


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Beauty and the Beast 3D: Diamond Edition (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise

Studio: Disney
Year: 1991
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 85/91 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French


Region: A-B-C
MSRP:  $ 49.99



Release Date: October 4, 2011

Review Date: September 27,2011



The Film

5/5


The famous old story is well-known: how an enchanted prince cursed to the ugly shell of a beast must find a beautiful maiden to love him for his inner goodness in order for the spell to lift. In Cocteau's version, Beauty is drawn toward the town's most handsome man Gaston and must come to love the Beast in spite of her prior feelings. In this Disney account, Beauty is repelled by Gaston and flees his egotistical advances. Her attraction to the Beast has fewer obstacles for her to overcome. As in all the most memorable Disney animated tales, the character voices make the movie. Here, they are without exception wonderful. Paige O'Hara bountifully performs the role of Belle, and her stirring singing makes her musical  numbers all highlights. Robby Benson's voice has been electronically deepened to add doubly to his fierceness as the Beast, but it softens as his feelings for Belle blossom into love (though there seems to be much less processing when he sings his part of “Something There”),. And Richard White’s munificent bass provides Gaston with the boastful swagger and the profound muscular musicality to pull off the handsome rogue to utter perfection.


Disney's animated films always contain secondary characters as delicious and  exceptionally interesting as the leads (sometimes even more memorable), and three of them in this movie prove unforgettable. Angela Lansbury beats all comers as the no nonsense Mrs. Potts, the talking teapot, who serenades the lovers with the score's most exquisite song number, the title song sung as the two fall in love. Jerry Orbach's spunky French candelabra Lumiere certainly has the film's best lines while David Ogden Stiers is full of officious self-importance as the talking clock Cogsworth. Jo Anne Worley has a cute moment or two as the chatty Wardrobe as well.


The earlier reference to the film's haunting title song  is not a slight to the remainder of this magnificent musical score by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman. In much the manner of a Broadway musical, there are introductory songs to get exposition out of the way quickly through song and dance (the opening " Belle"), character numbers to fill in chinks of characterization (Gaston's egocentric self-tribute), and marvelous and sweeping production numbers. The latter, an extravaganza of whirling silverware, dishes, and assorted crockery set to the tune of "Be Our Guest" outdoes anything short of Busby Berkeley in its largess and expansive use of rhythm, movement, patterns, and panache. The other big production number “Human Again,” added to the special edition version of the film, gives the animators and actors another tour de force sequence, but after “Be Our Guest,” it’s not quite as special.


But the quality, love, and joy put into this project is stamped onto every frame of this wonderfully vivid film. And when the Beast takes Belle for a moonlit walk around his palace, when they dance and hold hands and look into each other's eyes, it's the essence of screen romance despite the fact that these are animated characters. It has the magic of purity and truth without ever seeming corny or overly sentimental.



Video Quality

5/5

3D implementation – 3.5/5


The film has been framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Color saturation and sharpness are exemplary throughout the presentation, and the lines are crisp and unaffected by artifacting of any kind: the image is for all intents and purposes perfect. There is no evidence of banding in the backgrounds, and colors while inarguably bright and rich never bloom. Black levels are richly deep and impressive. The film has been divided into 21 chapters for the original theatrical cut and 22 chapters for the special edition.


Disney’s use of the multiplane camera from the 1930s on was one of the revolutionary advances in animation production, and when one adds 3D conversion on top of its use, the amount of depth in these images and the numerous levels for imagery placement seem almost infinite. There doesn’t seem to be a single frame that doesn’t at least have objects in the foreground, middle, and background, all clearly and distinctly delineated, and often the levels of placement are four or five objects thick making for astonishingly complex visual impressions. Since this is a 3D conversion, however, there are no deliberately animated outward projections. Occasionally, some wood chips or snowflakes or rain might seem to momentarily float beyond the frame for an instant, but that’s the aspect of 3D notably missing from this 3D incarnation of the film.



Audio Quality

4.5/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix makes the music sound truly spectacular with orchestra routed throughout the soundfield and singing voices mostly in the center channel with an occasional directionalized placement that sounds wonderfully immersive. The back surround speakers aren’t really taken great advantage of in this mix which makes a 7.1 mix rather than a standard 5.1 mix something of a puzzle. Still, it’s a minor quibble. There are no real complaints about this superb sound recording or the lossless rendering offered here.



Special Features

5/5


Once again, Disney has failed to include a single 3D bonus feature on the 3D disc containing the movie. With all of the 3D productions Disney has on hand which would have available 3D trailers, it’s hard to understand why one or two of them haven’t been included on the disc (Fox’s Rio offered a 3D cartoon and two 3D trailers). The menu for the disc is handsomely animated in 3D, however.


One small criticism of the bonus features is that they have been spread over two Blu-ray discs, but in a rather willy-nilly fashion (as you’ll see in the upcoming listing). Obviously this was done to utilize available space on both discs, but there seems to be no particular organizational scheme for them from disc to disc. At least the menus do identify if a bonus section is found on disc two instead of disc one.



2D Blu-ray Disc One


There are three versions of the film offered on the disc: the original 1991 theatrical cut, the special edition cut with “Human Again” added in, and the original film with a PiP window showing the work-in-progress cut of the movie.


The audio commentary features producer Don Hahn, directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, and composer Alan Menken. It’s a lively remembrance of the work filled with funny and also touching stories which last right to the end of the disc. The commentary is only available with the Special Edition version of the movie.


The sing along mode can be selected so that the family can sing the lyrics as they appear on the screen.


The bonus features on this disc are all presented in 1080p.


“Broadway Beginnings” is a series of reminiscences by various celebrities (Debbie Gibson, Andrea McArdle, Donny Osmond, Joe Jonas) who have performed in the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast and who offer encouragement for those viewers who might have an interest in performing. It runs 13 ¼ minutes.


A new music video of the title song is given an updated rendering by American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. It plays for 3 ½ minutes and features clips from the film along with live action video of the singer.


“Composing a Classic” features Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken along with the film’s producer Don Hahn and film historian Richard Kraft discussing the composing of the film’s songs. Menken plays and sings excerpts of several of them and also discusses with reverence his late lyricist Howard Ashman and his contributions to the movie. It runs 20 ¼ minutes.


There are two deleted sequences (done in storyboards and rough animation with audio click tracks): an alternate opening for the film with different characters and tone that runs for 18 ½ minutes and “Belle in the library” with four enchanted characters who were never developed (8 ½ minutes). Each scene has an optional introduction which runs ½ minute.


There are trailers for Tangled, Bambi, Toy Story 3, A Christmas Carol, The Lion King, Fantasia/Fantasia 2000, Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Dumbo.


The disc is BD-Live enabled, and the network was active, but other than a trailer, there were no specific new materials for Beauty and the Beast.



2D Blu-ray Disc Two


“Beyond Beautyis the most expansive bonus feature in the package. It’s a comprehensive look at the making of the film with interactive features which allow the viewer to branch off into supplementary featurettes, art galleries, and short subjects that further discuss points made in the documentary. Among the more memorable featurettes that seamlessly branch off the primary documentary are a loving biography of lyricist Howard Ashman, a discussion of the aborted first attempt to animate the story (seen in its entirety on disc one and also available here), the original version of “Be Our Guest” (also available elsewhere but not in 1080p), four of Walt’s Laugh-o-Gram silent shorts, some selected Silly Symphony cartoons, and a history of early animation techniques, some which predate movies themselves. If one viewed this documentary and all of the bonus featurettes available via seamless branching, it would run in excess of 2 ½ hours in 1080p.


“Enchanted Musical Challenge” is a family game which is a combination of trivia questions and search and find puzzles.


“Bonjour! Who Is This?” is a BD-Live enhanced game involving a combination of the internet and the telephone.


The following bonus features (presented here in 480i) were ported from the previous DVD release:


  • “The Story Behind the Story” summarizes several famous fairy tales as they have been animated by the Disney studios.
  • Original music video of “Beauty and the Beast” by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson runs for 4 ½ minutes.
  • An early presentation reel of the film introduced by producer Don Hahn runs 2 ¾ minutes.
  • The alternate “Be Our Guest” number introduced by Hahn runs 5 minutes.
  • An alternate bit of scoring for the transformation scene is introduced by Alan Menken and runs 2 minutes.
  • The deleted song “Human Again” is introduced by both Hahn and Menken in separate ssegments and then runs 7 minutes in rough pencil sketch form.
  • Animation tests, Roughs, and Clean Ups run 5 minutes and are narrated by Don Hahn.
  • The pencil sketch version of the Transformation scene runs 5 ½ minutes and is introduced by Hahn.
  • “A Transformation by Glen Keane” features the animator who drew that scenes talking about its intense personal meaning in a 3 ¼-minute segment.
  • The camera move test for the title song sequence runs 2 minutes.
  • There are two theatrical trailers (original runs for 2 minutes, IMAX version runs 2 ½ minutes) and four TV spots (from ¼ to ½ minute each).
Disc Four is the DVD version of the film which also contains the three different versions of the movie.


Disc Five in the set is the digital copy of the movie with enclosed instructions for installation on PC and Mac devices.


An enclosed booklet offers some help in navigating the bonus features on the two 2D Blu-ray discs.


In Conclusion

5/5 (not an average)


Beauty and the Beast is a rare bird among even today's films, an unashamed musical romance that's right for every member of the family. The Blu-ray combo package offers beautiful high definition versions of the movie with superb sound and a raft of interesting bonus features both old and new, and the 3D version is equally eye-popping and an interesting alternative to watching the original film in 2D. No matter which one you choose to view, this Beauty is a real beaut!



Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 12 Ronald Epstein

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Posted September 27 2011 - 11:36 AM

Matt,


Thanks for a very enjoyable read.


Was very pleased with the conversion Disney did on this film.


They have consistently proven to be the best studio supporting 3D at the moment.


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#3 of 12 JakeLip

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Posted September 27 2011 - 02:03 PM

So this is basically the same thing as the 2D Blu-ray released last year, with a 3D disc and digital copy added? Why make people pay such a high price for something where the majority is content they already have?
 

 


#4 of 12 TonyD

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Posted October 03 2011 - 03:53 PM

I was able to get this form amazon for $24 so. Guess I'll try to sell the one I got last year.

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#5 of 12 Johnny Angell

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Posted October 05 2011 - 01:28 PM

Disney’s use of the multiplane camera from the 1930s on was one of the revolutionary advances in animation production, and when one adds 3D conversion on top of its use, the amount of depth in these images and the numerous levels for imagery placement seem almost infinite. There doesn’t seem to be a single frame that doesn’t at least have objects in the foreground, middle, and background, all clearly and distinctly delineated, and often the levels of placement are four or five objects thick making for astonishingly complex visual impressions. Since this is a 3D conversion, however, there are no deliberately animated outward projections. Occasionally, some wood chips or snowflakes or rain might seem to momentarily float beyond the frame for an instant, but that’s the aspect of 3D notably missing from this 3D incarnation of the film.

After reading this portion of the review, which includes statements such as "There doesn’t seem to be a single frame that doesn’t at least have objects in the foreground, middle, and background, all clearly and distinctly delineated, and often the levels of placement are four or five objects thick making for astonishingly complex visual impressions.", and see the reviewer gave it a 3D rating of only 3.5, I have to wonder if we don't need to rethink what we value 3D for. I am presuming it was downgraded from a higher score because there are no in-your-face moments. Now I enjoy those as much as the next guy, probably more, but if they were overused they wouldn't be much fun. Many think Avatar is the best 3D movie to date but the in-your-face moments are very few. Just reading your review, I would have guessed the 3D Implementation rating would have been at least a 4 or more. I don't get it.
Johnny
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#6 of 12 Matt Hough

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Posted October 05 2011 - 02:05 PM

A 3.5 would be the equivalent of a B which I think is a fair evaluation for the use of 3D in the film. I'm sorry if you disagree.



#7 of 12 Johnny Angell

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Posted October 06 2011 - 07:12 AM

I have not seen the film in 3D and was just pointing out what I thought was a discrepancy between what I consider a glowing review of the 3D and the rating. I'm paraphrasing but you wrote there doesn't seem to be a single frame not making use of the dimensionality of 3D, with complex visual impressions. Then you point out there are no outward projections, no in-your-face moments. If you downgraded the move from a 4 or better because of the lack of these moments, well, that's in the discretion of the reviewer, though I disagree with it. I notice that in his 3D reviews, Ron gives a separate rating to overall 3D, Separation, and In-Your-Face. From reading your review I would have guessed that you would have given 4 or better for the first two and maybe a 2 to the last.
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#8 of 12 Matt Hough

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Posted October 06 2011 - 08:02 AM

Well, that's exactly why it was downgraded. I think for me personally it would be difficult to give more than a 3.5 to a 3D film that doesn't have some outward projection. That's 1/3 of the 3D experience (the other two-thirds: increased depth and usage of multiple planes which Beauty and the Beast did beautifully). These are the criteria I use to score the 3D films that I review. Other reviewers may see it differently as is their prerogative.



#9 of 12 Johnny Angell

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Posted October 07 2011 - 07:00 AM

But isn't the outward project really the "gimmick" part of 3D? I've seen many a comment here in this forum about how gimmicky 3D is and it's a fad that'll pass away. It will be the other 2/3 of your 3D review that will keep 3D around permanently, I hope. I guess I would give the in-your-face factor no more than a weight of 10%. I ask myself, what do I want the film to do all the time, and what do I want about 10% of the time? Would you want the in-your-face factor to appear a third of the time? As you said, it's your review and you calls 'em as you sees 'em. No argument about that.
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#10 of 12 Matt Hough

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Posted October 07 2011 - 08:16 AM

I think intelligent filmmakers can work outward projections into their filming so that it isn't a gimmick but a natural outcropping from the rest of the photography. Of the animated films I have reviewed recently, Rio is a perfect example of how outward projection was made an intrinsic part of the film's photography. None of those "in your face" moments were gimmicky in the least, but when they happened, they were certainly spectacular and added a thrill to what I had already seen in 2D.


Of course, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King are working at a disadvantage: they weren't filmed originally with 3D in mind, so the chances for outward projection just aren't available. However, I won't judge them differently just because they've been ported over to 3D instead of being filmed with the process in mind. They charge the same to see them in a theater or to buy them on Blu-ray, so they must face the same evaluation standards and let the chips fall where they may.



#11 of 12 I-C-Blue

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Posted November 27 2011 - 01:01 PM

I've already pointed this out in another thread but I thought I'd do it here too. After seeing the new Theatrical 3D trailer, I've realized two things: 1) There's new effects. The background has blur effects in scenes with a lot of motion 2) The color changes - for the better. To take this both into account, reference the 3D trailer and pause at 1:12 or look at screenshot comparison: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xD5pcGp62ec&feature=player_embedded 2010 Diamond Edition - Pause at 4:28 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJQr6bmmRt8 http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/ Small but significant changes and again, for the better. Belle's hair and overall color is much more faithful to the original, even more so than last years blu-ray. There's a lot of red used on last years transfer it annoyed me. Cogsworth was not that red of a clock. Just watching the 3D trailer alone gets me feeling all the familiarity of the classic I remembered. Here's another video, where someone else compared side by side, further stating the color changes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTTeye6HGl4 Someone else pointed out the colors on the 3D trailer is different than the 3D though I can't tell for sure though I see it. But anyway, I hope Disney re-releases this [doubt it :( ] with the new colors for 2D blu-ray (unless the 2D blu-ray off the 3D combo pack carry these new changes). I'm not satisfied with the 2010 blu-ray that I own.

#12 of 12 GregK

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Posted November 28 2011 - 10:02 AM

Check out the last of the 3 trailer comparisons above, around the 1:29/1:30 mark. ...One of the background bushes decided to move more than a couple of feet..





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