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Blu-ray Review: "Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition"

Oklahoman Published: October 8, 2010
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Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" was a watershed event in Walt Disney's animation renaissance of 1989-99. The film edged out the first entry in the renaissance, 1989's "The Little Mermaid," on practically every level: animation, characters, songs and script. This Blu-ray "Diamond" edition highlights the advanced look and feel of the film, which benefited greatly from a then-state-of-the-art computer-animation system that helped point the way toward Disney's Pixar future. "Beauty and the Beast," which was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture, always looked great, but on Blu-ray, "best picture" is given new meaning.

Disney used the Computer Animation Production System, or CAPS, in the closing scene of "The Little Mermaid" and more extensively in 1990's "The Rescuers Down Under," but the advances can be seen most readily in "Beast." While the use of CAPS is most obvious in the famous ballroom scene between Belle (Paige O'Hara) and the Beast (Robby Benson), in which a computer-generated background was merged with traditionally drawn characters, Blu-ray makes the smooth results of CAPS more evident in every scene. Even now, after the considerable advances made by Pixar, the work on display is top-shelf.

This three-disc collection offers the bare-bones DVD for minivan use, while the Blu-ray discs feature the original theatrical version, an extended edition and tons of extras — some essential, others entirely superfluous. But the star of this collection is still the amazing looking feature film and the enhanced visual experience of "Beauty and the Beast" when seen on Blu-ray. While some older films do not offer much when seen in this format, "Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition" takes full advantage of the technology.

George Lang