Beauty and the Beast Blu-ray Review
Once more, with less feeling
Disney's live-action retread of its animated classic Beauty and the Beast is a hit and miss affair, failing to compete with either the original or innovative live-action spin-offs like Maleficent.It must be difficult for Disney to almost beat-for-beat remake one of their all-time, most beloved classics; a daunting task that, quite honestly, they probably shouldn't have embarked upon. It was almost destined for failure, the question was merely to what degree. And Beauty and the Beast has both elements in place - much visual beauty in the near-perfect effects and lavish setting, and an excellent beast, both in visual depiction and characterisation - but still ultimately falls short of its animated progenitor.For many, Emma Watson's feeble Belle will make or break the piece in terms of just how much you can tolerate her (aside from her look, which doesn't suit the character, her voice is just too thin), but Dan Stevens's near-perfect Beast almost makes up for it. It is a faithful - too faithful - remake, leaving it at times lacking its own identity, and it takes a good while for the film it really capture the essence of the classic tale (pretty-much all the way until the dance). Ultimately, though, it stood little chance of competing.
Picture QualityBeauty and the Beast certainly looks fabulous on Blu-ray, with the 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation largely flawless. Rendered in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen, the lavish production is visually opulent and perfect in almost every way - at times almost too real in terms of the animated characters, but that still leaves the presentation technically tremendous.
Visually opulent and perfect in every way on disc
Digitally shot, the image offers up no shortage of detail at every stage, from the close-ups that revel in the intricate texture of the beast, to the longer shots marveling at the majestic ballroom dance. Colours are vibrant and rich, with even the snow-set sequences having a natural beauty that shines through, whilst rich wood tones and bright and colourful dresses and outfits offer primary pop. Black levels are impeccable, allowing the shadows to come to life, and with no signs of any digital defects whatsoever it's largely visual perfection.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is just as impressive, affording the piece a broad and engulfing aural presence which balances dialogue, effects and the familiar score pieces with keen skill. Whether picking up the quieter flourishes of atmospheric nuance during the lulls or reveling in the grand musical setpieces, the track demonstrates both power and precision, and remains a demo offering through and through.
The track demonstrates both power and precision
Dialogue is afforded priority across the piece, delivered clearly and coherently across the frontal array, whilst effects lap up the animated foils and the roar of the beast, as well as the howling wind and dizzying dancing. The score is the highlight - as is only to be expected, and perhaps even demanded, of this film - and fully sweeps you into the production in a way that the narrative and style of the live action interpretation seldom achieves, giving the surrounds yet more fuel for the fire, and even bringing the LFE channel in for welcome support.
ExtrasThe movie comes playable with a short 3 minute Overture, as well as in a Sing-A-Long mode which allows you to follow the lyrics Karaoke-style. There are numerous Featurettes on offer, including an Enchanted Table Read look at the script, A Beauty of a Tale, which takes a lengthy half-hour look behind the production, The Women Behind "Beauty and the Beast" that spends a few minutes predominately with Emma Watson, From Song to Screen: Making The Musical Sequences, Making A Moment with Celine Dion, and a whole slew of Extended Songs, Music Videos, and Additional Scenes. It's a strong selection of extras.
A strong selection of extras
Zavvi's UK-exclusive 2D/3D Steelbook offers up both versions of the film, in a gorgeous steelbook package with the signature rose image as the front artwork. It's a shame there's no embossed frame or distinct features to help the image pop, but it's still a very lovely looking case.
Blu-ray VerdictAlmost destined for failure, the question was merely to what degree
Whatever your feelings towards the motivations behind a live action remake of Beauty and the Beast, the gamble certainly paid off for Disney financially with the film proving a monumental success at the box office and taking in over $1.2 billion world wide. The Blu-ray disc release itself is excellent, with perfect video and audio, a strong selection of extra features, and even the option to pick it up in an impressive steelbook release. For fans, and those who have a full collection of Disney titles, it's hard to resist, but it likely won't still well alongside the original.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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