Sleeping Beauty appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.55:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a pleasing presentation.
Sharpness was fine. Only a sliver of softness ever affected any wider shots, so the majority of the flick delivered nice clarity and accuracy. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and edge haloes were absent. Source flaws were absent, as the movie always seemed clean and concise.
Beauty featured a vivid palette, and the colors on the Blu-ray seemed terrific. The movie displayed these hues with fine vivacity and accuracy, and they consistently looked bright and well saturated. I saw no concerns connected to bleeding or noise, and the tones were dynamic and vibrant.
Black levels seemed deep and tight, while low-light shots came across as smooth and well depicted. Everything here looked very good and made this an “A-“ image.
Though it showed its age at times, the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Sleeping Beauty also seemed quite engaging. The soundfield presented a reasonably broad spectrum of audio, and music dominated the affair. The score showed nice stereo imaging most of the time and seemed well defined.
Some directional dialogue also showed up in the front speakers, and occasional effects emanated from the sides. However, other than the music, much of the track remained fairly monaural. Surround effects added reasonable punch at times, though, especially during scenes with action or magic. These didn’t offer great involvement, but they seemed satisfying.
Audio quality appeared fairly positive, though not as warm as I’d like. Speech always sounded reasonably natural and distinctive. The only signs of edginess came with some shouted lines, so most of the dialogue was concise and smooth.
Effects favored the trebly end of the spectrum. A few elements like thunder or crashes connected to Maleficent demonstrated moderate bass response, but overall, the track seemed a little on the thin side.
Music also lacked great dynamics and depth. The score was clear and acceptably detailed, but it didn’t present much warmth. The mix suffered from no signs of noise or other problems. Despite a few concerns, I felt that Sleeping Beauty offered above average audio for its age, so it earned a “B+”.
How did this 2014 Blu-ray compare to the 2008 Platinum DVD? Audio appeared more active, while visuals were more precise and vivid. Especially in terms of picture quality, the Blu-ray offered a good upgrade.
Note that this 2014 release represents the second Sleeping Beauty Blu-ray. Disney issued a prior version at the same time as the above-linked 2008 DVD. I never owned/saw that package, but from what I understand, the 2014 BD offers identical picture/audio.
We get a mix of old and new extras, and we open with an audio commentary from Disney executive John Lasseter, animator Andreas Deja and film historian Leonard Maltin. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific chat, though the piece also includes archival clips with Walt Disney and artists Eyvind Earle, Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis, Ken Anderson and Frank Thomas.
Because another commentary already exists, I felt surprised to find this new effort. I’d like to claim that this piece offers a good overview of the film, but it tends toward appreciation more than anything else, and that makes it less than enthralling.
Oh, we do get movie details along the way, as we find occasional notes about animation, art, Walt’s influence, story/characters and cast/crew. Most of the chat focuses on general praise for the production and participants, though, and this makes it a mediocre chat.
A few programs follow. Picture Perfect: The Making of Sleeping Beauty runs 43 minutes, 32 seconds and includes notes from Costa, Earle, Johnston, Giaimo, Davis, animators Will Finn, Frank Thomas, Burny Mattinson, Don Bluth and Andreas Deja, animation historians John Canemaker, John Culhane, Bob Thomas, Michael Barrier, Jeff Lenburg, Brian Sibley, Russell Schroder and Charles Solomon, background artist Walt Peregoy, consultant Roy Disney, USC Professor of Animation Christine Panuschka, filmmaker Pete Docter, story artist Floyd Norman, painting conservator Timothy Lennon, animation director Michael Sporn. Imagineering senior vice president Tony Baxter, in-betweener Ron Dias, costume designer Alice Davis, sequence director Woolie Reitherman, and Pixar production designer Ralph Eggleston.
“Perfect” examines the project’s origins and development, story issues and related challenges, visual design, influences and the film’s distinctive look, animation subjects and character concerns, cast and performances, costumes and live-action reference footage, music, the widescreen aspect ratio, and other animation topics, and the movie’s reception and legacy.
“Perfect” digs into a mix of good film-related topics and does so in a concise manner. This makes it a satisfying documentary.
Next comes a featurette called Eyvind Earle: The Man and His Art. In this seven-minute, 33-second piece, we hear from Alice Davis, Lennon, Dias, Canemaker, Panushka, Giaimo, Solomon, Culhane, Disney, Norman, Bluth, Docter and Earle himself. “Art” looks at the life and career of Earle, the force behind the flick’s visuals.
Though brief, “Art” gives us a decent recap of the important issues, and it doesn’t spare some unpleasant details about Earle’s childhood. Some fluff materializes, but this remains a pretty good show.
During the 10-minute, 50-second The Sound of Beauty: Restoring a Classic, we hear from Walt Disney Imagineering Senior VP Tony Baxter, Walt Disney Records supervising producer Randy Thornton, re-recording mixer Terry Porter, and Walt Disney Music president Chris Montan. This piece looks at the original soundtrack and its “upgrade” for Blu-ray. A few decent notes emerge, but mostly the show feels self-congratulatory.
Cut footage arrives next. We get two Deleted Scenes - “The Curse Is Fulfilled” (2:58) and “The Fair” (7:48) – as well as an Alternate Scene entitled “The Arrival of Maleficent” (1:58). All of these mix storyboards and audio to recreate the sequences. “Curse” becomes the most interesting of the bunch, but all are fun to see.
We go to Disney World for the eight-minute, 49-second Once Upon a Parade. Starring Modern Family actor Sarah Hyland, we get a look at one of the park’s features. It’s snarkier than one might expect from a promo piece such as this, but it’s still pretty forgettable.
For a look at characters, we visit The Art of Evil: Generations of Disney Villains. In this nine-minute, 49-second show, we hear from Deja, Frozen head of animation Lino DiSalvo, and animator Marc Davis and wife Alice. We learn about a few legendary villains as well as the artists who brought them to life. The featurette tends to be a bit fluffy but it offers a few decent details.
@DisneyAnimation: Artists in Motion fills four minutes, 27 seconds with info from visual development artist Brittney Lee. She tells us about her job in this moderately interesting featurette.
A sing-along, Beauty-Oke lets us croon with “Once Upon a Dream”. It features movie shots and lyrics in a stylized manner. I’m glad it doesn’t just repeat the scene from the film, but it still does little for me.
The disc opens with ads for 101 Dalmatians, Cinderella, and Maleficent. Sneak Peeks adds promos for Frozen, Planes: Fire and Rescue and Legend of the Neverbeast. No trailer for Beauty appears here.
A second disc offers a DVD copy of Beauty. It includes two deleted scenes and an alternate scene but lacks the other extras.
Does this 2014 Blu-ray lose bonus features from the prior DVDs and Blu-ray? Yes – it omits lots of materials, far too many to detail. Please consult the DVD review linked earlier to check out the absent components.
While I really like Disney animated films, I maintain mixed feelings about 1959’s Sleeping Beauty. The movie lives up to its name with arguably the most gorgeous visuals ever to grace an animated feature. However, the pedestrian and ordinary story and characters make it somewhat tedious to watch. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals as well as satisfying audio and a mostly useful set of supplements. This release presents the movie itself well but the fact it drops so many extras from prior releases becomes a disappointment.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of SLEEPING BEAUTY