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Beauty and the Beast (2017) Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Beauty and the Beast (2017) movie poster Beauty and the Beast

Theatrical Release: March 17, 2017 / Running Time: 129 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Bill Condon / Writers: Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos (screenplay); Linda Woolverton (1991 animated film screenplay)

Cast: Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Stevens (Beast), Luke Evans (Gaston), Josh Gad (LeFou), Kevin Kline (Maurice), Hattie Morahan (Agathe/Enchantress), Haydn Gwynne (Clothilde), Gerard Horan (Jean the Potter), Ray Fearon (P่re Robert), Ewan McGregor (Lumi่re), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Nathan Mack (Chip), Audra McDonald (Madame Garderobe), Stanley Tucci (Maestro Cadenza), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette), Clive Rowe (Cuisiner), Thomas Padden (Chapeau), Gizmo (Froufrou)

Songs: "Aria", "Belle", "How Does a Moment Last Forever (Music Box)", "Belle (reprise)", "Gaston", "Be Our Guest", "Days in the Sun", "Something There", "How Does a Moment Last Forever (Montmartre)", "Beauty and the Beast", "Evermore", "The Mob Song", "Beauty and the Beast (finale)"

Buy Beauty and the Beast (2017) from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD • DVD • Instant Video

The Walt Disney Company doesn't have the biggest movie library around, but they might just have the most beloved, particularly when we zero in on the animated features they have released on a near-annual basis since 1937. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the studio capitalized on that tradition of perennial bestsellers with direct-to-video sequels.
Making a lot more money than they cost, the sequels had the "business" part down, but hadn't quite mastered the "show" part, with many critics and discerning fans taking issue with their frugality and lack of imagination.

Having mostly gotten out of the DTV business after John Lasseter came aboard, the studio now has a better way of getting new revenue out of the old classics that so many have seen (and already purchased multiple times): live-action remakes. You can trace the tradition back to 1996's hit 101 Dalmatians starring Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil, but that would overstate its impact. No, the live-action remakes have emerged as a force under Bob Iger's leadership where brands are king. Disney has Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Disneynature, the inspirational true sports dramas, and, of course, the still thriving flagship animation department. Now, nearly as formidable as the most prosperous of those classes is the live-action remake. There was Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, the Sleeping Beauty reimagining Maleficent, 2015's Cinderella, and last year's nearly billion dollar grossing The Jungle Book.

Clearly more anticipated than any of those is this year's remake, Beauty and the Beast, adapted from the decorated 1991 feature and its long-running Broadway adaptation that many a millennial adores. It's unreasonable to expect this highly-awaited, big-budget, effects-heavy musical fairy tale to earn any less than the lucrative remakes that have come before it. It is virtually guaranteed that this finally dethrones Grease as the box office king among live-action musicals after a reign of nearly forty inflation-ignoring years. Just because a movie is a lock to sell an obscene amount of tickets, though, is no confirmation that it will be any good. Look no further than Burton's Alice for an instance of great numbers not being backed up by acclaim.

Emma Watson plays Belle, the book-loving protagonist of Disney's 2017 live-action "Beauty and the Beast."

Fortunately, though, the new Beauty and the Beast is an admirable and relatively enchanting film. It is one that I suspect those who love Disney's 1991 animated classic should be able to appreciate just as much as this critic who only likes it did.

Not the most likely or inspiring choice for the job, Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn) takes the helm of this $160 million production with a script attributed to Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the film adaptation of Rent) and Disney DTV veteran Evan Spiliotopoulos (whose more recent credits include the maligned not-quite-tentpoles Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson and The Huntsman: Winter's War).

In a cunning bit of casting, Emma Watson, forever known as Hermione in the Harry Potter films, portrays Belle, the bookish and kind-hearted young woman who doesn't fit in her provincial French village. Belle takes care of her father, Maurice (a solid Kevin Kline), a sweet, widowed tinkerer some regard as kind of a crackpot. As you know, Maurice gets lost in the woods and ends up a lifetime prisoner in the castle of the former prince cursed to spend his days as a furry, horned beast (Dan Stevens). Looking to rescue him, Belle finds him and switches places with him.

Luke Evans plays Belle's macho suitor Gaston and Josh Gad is his subtly smitten comic sidekick LeFou.

As you also know, though Belle and the Beast get off to a rough start, we gradually notice there's something there that wasn't there before. Not just Stockholm Syndrome, but love and true love at that, the kind that could break a witch's curse. Of course, the Beast's castle is occupied by an assortment of his former colleagues who are now reduced to magical object form.
There's Lumiere the candelabra (voiced by Ewan McGregor, one of the only ones putting on a French accent), Cogsworth the clock (Ian McKellen), teapot Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) and her teacup son Chip (Nathan Mack), and dentally-challenged pianist turned organ Cadenza (Stanley Tucci).

While Belle is confined, we get to repeatedly venture outside the Beast's castle, where the cocky, narcissistic, and macho Gaston (Luke Evans) has his heart set on winning over the only girl in town not interested in him. He sees believing Maurice's far-fetched tale as the potential key to winning Belle's hand. Forever at his side is LeFou (Josh Gad, best known to Disney fans as the voice of Frozen snowman Olaf), whose enamorment with Gaston is being overstated in news articles this week declaring him Disney's first openly gay character.

Beauty gives us new renditions of all of the animated feature's famous songs by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, including the heroine-establishing "Belle", the titular Oscar winner performed over ballroom dance, and the lively, show-stopping "Be Our Guest." It also includes some new songs with music by Menken and lyrics by The Lion King's Tim Rice, including Maurice's "How Does a Moment Last Forever" (later reprised by Belle) and the Beast's "Evermore." These additions as well as various original exchanges and moments do enough to distinguish this Beauty from Disney's previous one, which this runs one and a half times as long as.

After a rough start, Belle (Emma Watson) and Beast (motion captured Dan Stevens) warm enough to share a ballroom dance in fancy attire.

Though expanded and sometimes reinterpreted, this "live-action" Beauty (which relies extensively on digital effects and animation) is every bit as much of an appealing crowdpleaser as the source film. It is a cornucopia of sensory delights, just as 2015's Cinderella was, but there isn't quite the d้jเ vu quality of that film and last year's well-made Jungle Book. You don't leave Beauty asking "Why bother making this?" or accepting "Money" as the cynical only answer to that question. Condon and his talented crew are able to take the 2D visuals of the cartoon and turn them into a rich, vast,
and believable three-dimensional universe (even when viewed, as my screening was, in 2D).

Meanwhile, the cast are able to give these characters unique personalities distinct from what even the giants of animation driving Disney's '90s renaissance could craft. Whether or not Watson's singing voice wins you over, her performance is very consistent with the brown-eyed, brown-haired Belle that has long ranked as both the definitive take on the character and an essential member of the Disney Princess canon. You're not very surprised that Watson, so charming in the Potter films, can carry a big movie all on her own. But she doesn't even quite have to do that because the supporting cast assembled around her is also well-suited for their parts. Evans, not really versed in this type of thing (even if you remember him from The Hobbit sequels), is agreeably charismatic and conceited as the film's slightly unconventional villain. He does more to impress than second-billed Stevens, who at times you wish had less of a CGI and more of a makeup and prosthetics presence, no matter how challenging and time-consuming the latter would have been.

If The Jungle Book could win the Visual Effects Oscar nearly a year after opening and Cinderella could land a Costume Design nomination a year earlier, then it stands to reason that this opulent and no doubt commercially potent Beauty and the Beast can be remembered in some technical categories next award season. Memory is also the only thing potentially keeping Watson from getting a Golden Globe nomination in the historically uncompetitive Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical category. Basically, these live-action remakes stand to be recognized in a number of the categories where their animated counterparts never had a chance. But Beauty and the Beast isn't made for awards or purely for the steep financial rewards it will reap. And that alone is reason enough to enjoy it.

Everyone knew this new version of Beauty and the Beast would be a hit. Still, the degree to which it succeeded with moviegoers is largely unprecedented. It barely needed a fifth day to dethrone Grease as the top-grossing live-action musical ever, a position it had held for nearly forty years. The $502 million domestic Beauty grossed was more than all but seven movies: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, James Cameron's record-setters Avatar and Titanic, Jurassic World, landmark superhero movies The Avengers and The Dark Knight, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (which kind of feels like the outlier here). Worldwide, Beauty currently ranks tenth all time with $1.24 billion earned to date, which is more than any Disney-branded movie to date except Frozen. One can only imagine the sky is the limit for Disney's summer 2019 remake of The Lion King, seemingly their most beloved animated film ever.

Beauty and the Beast (2017): Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Holographic Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video


Not everyone digs the aesthetics of this version of Beauty and the Beast, but as a relatively high-budgeted film from the most commercially successful movie studio of the past several years, it is little surprise that it looks as great as intended on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 visuals are sharp, vibrant, and polished, while the 7.1 DTS-HD master audio brims with life as it distributes music and atmosphere with the breadth and immediacy you want.

Dan Stevens, Emma Watson, and Luke Evans participate in an "Enchanted Table Read" that includes song and dance rehearsals. Josh Gad clowns around with a crew member on the set in "A Beauty of a Tale."


Like its animated predecessor, 2017's Beauty touts three ways to be experienced on home video. You can watch the original theatrical cut, or watch the movie in sing-along mode (which places animated song lyrics over the musical numbers),
or watch it with an overture (3:06) -- instrumental score over some generic gold visuals -- at its start.

More conventional extras begin with "Enchanted Table Read" (13:31), which collects highlights from the cast's ambitious table read/song and dance rehearsal (with some comparisons to the corresponding scene in the final film) as well as reflections on the experience.

"A Beauty of a Tale" (27:08) is a general making-of documentary. It covers the bases you expect (the adaptation, the cast, the music, the effects) in the manner you hope: comments from cast and crew complement a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage. I'm sure there was enough to this production to lend to an hour or even 90-minute documentary, but most should come away from this comprehensive piece satisfied.

Costume designer Jacqueline Durran is among the female crew members celebrated in "The Women Behind 'Beauty and the Beast." An aerial shot shows just how much provincial village was constructed for the opening number "Belle."

"The Women Behind Beauty and the Beast" (5:17) celebrates a number of women who made key contributions to the film, from production design to editing to set decoration. The unspoken point is that women rarely hold such important creative positions on films, which is obviously unfortunate.

"From Song to Screen: Making the Musical Sequences" (13:26) deconstructs the staging and filming of the film's four most famous musical numbers, "Belle", "Something There", "Gaston", and "Beauty and the Beast." Talking heads complement behind-the-scenes footage.

An extended version of the song "Days in the Sun" (4:08) is presented with an introduction by director Bill Condon, who explains why actress resemblance required a reshoot and a recasting.

Deleted Scenes, a section many may gravitate to, consists of eight very brief cut bits (6:23) that are collectively/generically introduced by Condon. They're fairly underwhelming, often presenting little more than discarded gags and moments, with some unfinished visual effects. There is the otherwise absent character of Monsieur Toilette played by Stephen Merchant.

Celine Dion reflects on her two experiences of contributing to Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." John Legend and Ariana Grande put their stamp on the titular song in this lavish "Beauty and the Beast" music video.

"Making a Moment with Celine Dion" (3:24) lets the iconic Canadian singer reflect dramatically on her contributions to both the original 1991 animated classic and this new version.

Next up is the music video for the obligatory "Beauty and the Beast" pop cover (4:02), performed by Ariana Grande and John Legend. Prominently billed to director David Meyers, the video sees the two artists singing (and in Legend's case, tickling the ivories) amidst golden sparkles in the castle from the film.

"Making the Music Video: Beauty and the Beast" (2:07) naturally supplies a behind-the-scenes look
at the music video you just watched, with the two singers discussing the song's significance, their collaboration, and itsmusic video presentation.

Finally, "Disney Song Selection" simply supplies direct access to twelve of the film's songs with color-changing lyric subtitles enabling singing along. There is also the opportunity to watch a 33-minute, 9-second cut of the film made up just of these songs.

Disappointingly absent here is an audio commentary recorded by director Bill Condon. For whatever reason, it is apparently kept an exclusive to Vudu digital copies of the film. Because vudu downloaders love commentaries?

The cursed rose features on the Beauty and the Beast DVD main menu, which didn't need to use the plural form "bonus features."

Because Disney really isn't about that DVD life anymore, the secondary disc in this combo pack includes just a single bonus feature: Grande and Legend's "Beauty and the Beast" music video. I wonder if this practice did anything to contribute to DVD's precipitous sales decline.

The disc open with teasers for Cars 3 and Descendants 2. The Sneak Peeks listing repeats the same two previews, adding nothing more.

The main menu plays dramatic clips under glowing embers and score.

The plain Blu-ray and white DVD share a side-snapped keepcase whose eye-catching design is reproduced in even greater eye-catching fashion on the extensively embossed, highly holographic cardboard slipcover. Inside, an ad for Disney Movie Club joins the sealed envelope holding the Disney Movie Rewards/digital HD code.

Candelabra Lumiere (Ewan McGregor) and other enchanted items in the Beast's castle do their part to make Belle (Emma Watson) feel less like a prisoner.


Disney's 2017 Beauty and the Beast is not just a box office behemoth, it is an appealing new take on one of the studio's most beloved animated features. Perhaps because my expectations were lowered by past Disney live-action remakes or because the 1991 cartoon isn't among my favorites, but this effects-heavy version exceeded my expectations and stands as one of 2017's most enjoyable films thus far. While some may take issue with the film visually or vocally, there is much more to enjoy than lament here.

On its own merits, this Blu-ray combo pack boasting a high quality feature presentation and good extras, warrants a recommendation. But presumably it will give way to an expanded Blu-ray 3D Collector's Edition later this year, like last year's The Jungle Book, and still those who have made the leap to 4K Ultra HD may be waiting for Disney to start supporting that format.

Buy Beauty and the Beast (2017) from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: The Lego Batman Movie • Logan • Life
The Jungle Book (2016) • Cinderella (2015) • Alice in Wonderland (2010) • 101 Dalmatians (1996) • Maleficent • Enchanted • Into the Woods
Beauty and the Beast (1991) • Beauty and the Beast (1946) | Directed by Bill Condon: The Fifth Estate • Dreamgirls
Emma Watson: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 • Regression | Luke Evans: The Girl on the Train • Fast & Furious 6
Josh Gad: Frozen | Kevin Kline: The Hunchback of Notre Dame • Last Vegas | Dan Stevens: Vamps

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Reviewed June 28, 2017.

Text copyright 2017 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2017 Disney, Mandeville Films, and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
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