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Featured Blu-ray Review: Sleeping Beauty

October 4th, 2014

Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition - Buy from Amazon: Blu-ray Combo Pack

This is not the first time I've reviewed Sleeping Beauty. It is not the first time I've reviewed the film on Blu-ray. The previous review was almost exactly six years ago. This review is less about the movie and more about the differences in the two Blu-ray releases.

The Movie

The film takes place in a magical kingdom where the King and Queen welcome the birth of their first child, a daughter they call Aurora. The King and Queen use this event for a political matchmaking and betroth her to Prince Phillip. They also throw a huge party where everyone is invited, everyone but the evil fairy, Maleficent, who shows up anyway. She is asked to leave, but not before cursing Aurora, so that she will die on her 16th birthday. One of the good fairies, Merryweather, uses her magic to reduce the curse from death to just a magical coma, which can be broken by a kiss. As an added safety precaution, they keep Aurora is a small cottage in the woods, where she is raised under a false name. But soon her 16th birthday is at hand...

Obviously I'm skipping over most of the plot, because The movie is more than 50 years old and it is widely considered a classic. My opinion of the film hasn't changed much in six years. It does feel a little old-fashioned, and not always in a good way. Our leading lady doesn't have much agency, which wouldn't fly today. You can't put Aurora up next to Merida or the two sisters from Frozen and not be impressed by the evolution of the Disney Princesses. That said, the film still has one of the best villains in the Walt Disney Animation Studios' collection. Maleficent is clearly the true star of the movie and is the main reason why anyone remembers the film.

The Extras

Here is where things get confusing. There are new extras on this edition of the Blu-ray, but there are also extras that were on the Platinum Edition. Most importantly, they got rid of the Cine-Explore Mode picture-in-picture track, which is disappointing, as I love those extras. I must have been in the minority, because Disney stopped making them for their other releases. They still have the regular audio commentary track, but not the Cine-Explore Mode or the pop-up trivia track. Also gone is the animated short, music video, anything interactive, etc. There are some new extras, starting with a trio of deleted / alternative scenes that are only on the DVD. The Blu-ray has Once Upon A Parade, a nine-minute featurette with Sarah Hyland and some kids checking out the Festival of Fantasy Parade. The Art of Evil is much more interesting. It is a ten-minute look at the creation of some of the iconic villains. Artists in Motion is a four-minute look at animator Brittney Lee making a papercraft Maleficent.

As for the technical presentation, it is the same video transfer and audio track as last time. Despite being more than 50 years old, the video shows its age only very rarely. There are a couple of scenes early on that are a little on the soft side, but that's the only complaint. The level of detail is incredible, while the colors are even better. The video is also in the right aspect ratio, 2.55:1, so that's a bonus. The audio is 7.1 surround sound, which is an improvement over the original 3-channel stereo. The dialogue is crisp, while the activity in the surround sound speakers is more impressive than I expected it would be.

The Verdict

Sleeping Beauty is worth owning, but the Diamond Edition doesn't have all of the old extras from the Platinum Edition, so I'm not convinced it is worth the double-dip. Then again, the Platinum Edition is out of print, so if you missed it the first time, grab it now.

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Filed under: Video Review, Sleeping Beauty, Sarah Hyland, Kelly Macdonald