Beauty and the Beast (25th Anniversary Edition) Is the Pick of the Week

Memory is a funny thing. It changes and mutates along the way as we get older. My memory says I was a great fan of the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s, but looking back at those films it seems I really wasn’t. The Little Mermaid kicked things off in 1989. I was 13. I love that film. I think I saw it in theaters upon first release, but honestly, it’s become such a part of my cinematic DNA, I can no longer remember the first time I saw it. Beauty and the Beast was released two years later, and I’m quite certain I didn’t see it in the theaters. Fifteen-year-old boys aren’t interested in films with “Beauty” in their titles. At least, I wasn’t anyways. I most certainly saw Aladdin in the theaters in 1992, probably several times. Mostly because I loved Robin Williams. The Lion King came out my senior year of high school and again I missed that one. I did catch it on home video because lots of girls my freshman year of college raved about it and I was certainly all about aligning myself with lots of girls my freshman year of college.

Again, my memory tells me it was that viewing of The Lion King that made me a huge fan of the Renaissance, but looking at the subsequent films to come out that decade (Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, and Tarzan), I have to admit it was many years later before I saw some of them and there are at least a couple of that I’ve never seen at all.

Beauty and the Beast is, perhaps, the most loved of all the films in the Disney Renaissance. As mentioned, I didn’t see it when it first came out. Had no interest in it. But somewhere in college, I think, I kept hearing lovely things about it and no doubt some girl wanted to watch it so I sat through it. Honestly, though I liked it then, it wasn’t even close to my favorite. I’ve seen it a time or two since then and it has remained maybe third or fourth in line of my favorite Disney film from this era.

Once again, though, it is a girl who has brought it to my attention (and possibly even forced my hand with this Pick of the Week). My wife is an enormous fan of the film. Whenever it is mentioned, she does a gasp and then starts singing. When I picked up a copy of an old VHS tape of it at a garage sale for my daughter, she nearly cried. Somehow we’ve managed to never buy the thing on DVD or Blu-ray (probably because I do most of the movie shopping).

Until now that is. When I saw that they were releasing a 25th Anniversary Signature Edition release of the film in Blu-ray, I knew I had to get it for my wife. It doesn’t hurt that her birthday is next week either. Honestly, I’m not even sure how this differs from the previous Blu-ray releases of this film. I know they’ve done a couple of and at first glance it doesn’t look like it’s adding anything, but I really don’t care. Once my wife opens it up, the look on her face will be worth the ticket price.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Sacrifice: Thriller about a couple who move to an isolated Scottish island only to discover its inhabitants are involved in some sort of crazy cult. Sounds a bit like The Wicker Man which I liked quite a bit (the 1973 version not the dubious 2006 remake) but critics and audiences alike have panned it big time.

Labyrinth (30th Anniversary Edition Gift Set): Last week, I talked about the new Aliens: 30th Anniversary release and complained a bit that it appeared to be simply a repackaging of an old release with some new, digital-only extras. Thankfully, this anniversary release seems to be the real deal with a new 4K transfer and lots of additional extras.

Blood Simple (Criterion Collection): The Coen Brothers’ first movie becomes their second film to get a Criterion release. Here’s hoping this collaboration continues for a long time.

Free State of Jones: The McConaissance might be over now. After a string of critically acclaimed and well-received films and television shows from 2012-2014, he’s slowed down a bit and made a couple of duds, this one included. Free State of Jones is about a disillusioned Confederate army deserter who returns to Mississippi and leads a militia full of deserters, runaways slaves, and women. That sounds pretty good to me, but the reviews have not been kind. Never fear, McConaughey fans, he’ll soon be back on top if the adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series is as good as I hope it will be.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows: I will never understand how these goofy characters have lasted so long in so many different incarnations.

Mat Brewster

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