Beauty and the Beast is a modern classic of animation and one of Disney’s best films. It’s pointless to review the film, but today sees the release of a new edition of the film, and seeing as how this is not its first blu-ray release, I figure it’s worth walking through the disc to see what else you get.
Therefore, without further ado, let’s take a look at what distinguishes this 25th anniversary “Signature Collection” edition and how it compares to the 2010 “Diamond Edition” blu-ray release. First and foremost, it should be stated that the video and audio are identical between the two releases. They look and sound exactly the same (beautiful), and there’s really not a noticeable difference between the two. Additional similarities noted below.
The on-screen menu, though, is different. This may not seem like a big deal, but I think this was actually a change for the worse. The same changes were made with the recent Signature Collection release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The new menu is gorgeous but rather generic. The 2010 edition features a menu that, left playing, flies you through Beast’s castle. Lumiere also talks to and interacts with you, welcoming you back if you haven’t watched in a while and reacting to the selections you make. It’s gimmicky, sure, but it’s incredibly entertaining and has a lot of personality.
The 2010 edition spreads out the special features over two discs, but this new edition packs everything onto a single disc. For those of you who still buy physical media, you might be interested to know about the special features available. Well, here goes…
What’s the same?
- Both versions of the film are practically identical in terms of specs. They look and sound the same (both have 7.1 DTS audio).
- Three versions of the film: the original theatrical edition, a special extended edition (with “Human Again”), and a sing-along edition.
- Both contain the same audio commentary with directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, producer Don Hahn, and composer Alan Menken.
What’s new? Aside from the menu, there are quite a few differences and special features that are new to the 2016 edition.
- “Always Belle” is a 12-minute featurette on Paige O’Hara, the voice of Belle. The short primarily consists of a new interview with O’Hara reflecting on her experiences making the film, representing the phenomenally popular character in the 25 years since its release, and living with that legacy.
- “Menken & Friends: 25 Years of Musical Inspiration” is a 19-minute look inside the music of Beauty and the Beast. It’s basically Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stephen Schwartz, and Alan Menken all hanging out…with Menken at the piano. They sing, they share stories, they talk about writing music, and they all geek out over one another. It’s adorable, and it’s probably the best extra on the disc.
- ‘”#1074: Walt, Fairy Tales, & Beauty and the Beast” is a 9-minute look back at the seeds of Beauty and the Beast that were planted by Walt Disney during the 1930s. It’s a fascinating insight into how ideas were developed at Disney from the 30s through the 50s and how some ideas just don’t go away.
- “The Recording Sessions” is a 4-minute compilation of some of the original footage of the voice actors recording the lines and songs. Really, watching Jerry Orbach sing “Be Our Guest” is worth the price of admission alone.
- “25 Fun Facts about Beauty and the Beast” is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a 5-minute short of factoids hosted by Kayla Maisonet (Stuck in the Middle) and Gus Kamp (Best Friends Whenever).
- “Beauty and the Beast Sneak Peek” is a very brief teaser of the upcoming live-action remake of the film. There are a few incredibly quick glimpses of the film we haven’t seen before, but still no sign of Beast or Emma Watson in character.
What’s missing (from the 2010 edition)? If you stick to the physical disc, then almost everything from the 2010 release is absent from the new release. This includes the amazing Beyond Beauty: The Untold Stories Behind the Making of Beauty and the Beast, tons of other extras, and all of the original DVD special features: deleted scenes, alternate songs, animation tests, trailers, a making-of documentary, and more. However, if you use Disney Movies Anywhere, the code included with the blu-ray not only unlocks the film for instant streaming but also unlocks all of the special features from the previous editions. So, between the physical and digital worlds, you do get everything. It’s just not all in one place.
Do I recommend the new Signature Collection edition of Beauty and the Beast? If you don’t already own a copy of the film, then it’s a no-brainer. You’ll be blown away all over again, and it’s a remarkable film that any fan of animation should own.
What if you already own the 2010 edition? This is tougher. If you’re a big fan of special features, then there a few new things here, but I don’t think I’d recommend picking up another copy of the film on the strength of those features alone. There’s really not much there to satisfy you beyond a single viewing. Since the video and audio of the film itself are unchanged, you’re probably safe giving this one a pass.
(Disclosure: GeekDad was provided with a review copy of this release. All opinions remain our own.)