In the land of Argrabah, comes a story of wonder with a street-smart kid, a princess, an evil wizard, a sultan, a monkey and a genie. Jafar, the Grand Vizier, needs Aladdin to steal a magic lamp from The Cave of Wonders. At the palace, The Sultan is trying to find a suitable husband for his daughter, Princess Jasmine. She feels like every prince she meets is too stuck up and narcissistic for her liking. Tired of the palace life, she sneaks out to the market to clear her head. Not really knowing how money works, she gets into some trouble and Aladdin with his monkey Abu come to her rescue. Unfortunately, the trio gets caught by the palace guards and she reveals her true identity. Jafar fakes the boy’s death to use him to acquire the magic lamp and the story really begins.
Aladdin was the third Disney film from the early 90s to really spark the interest of a widespread audience. Before it, Disney animated films had fallen out of the spotlight with a string of movies that many didn’t know they were even released. It’s directed by the Disney veterans Ron Clements and John Musker. They were also the pair that directed The Little Mermaid. This was a game changer for Disney because it’s the first animated film that the princess isn’t Caucasian but an Arabian girl.
ALADDIN is one of those classic Disney films that I can connect with because I was at the right age when it first hit theaters. Along with THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and THE LION KING; this was the Disney that I grew up with. I have always found the art to be incredible and groundbreaking during its release. This was one of the first times that the studio mixed CGI with traditional animation in more than one scene. The blending was also used with the magic carpet. That was how the animators could make the carpet move like fabric and not lose track of the pattern on it. Not only is the animation top notch but also the story and music are unforgettable.
Of course the real standout from the movie has to be The Genie played by the late, great Robin Williams. Now, I say played by and not voiced because the animators took a lot of Williams’ mannerisms and put them in to the animated character on screen. In the extras, there is a whole segment about how the animators would let Williams be himself and ad-lib some of his lines.
Directors and Cast
-Scott Weinger as Aladdin
-Robin Williams as The Genie and the Merchant
-Linda Larkin as Princess Jasmine
-Jonathan Freeman as Jafar
-Gilbert Gottfried as Iago
-Douglas Seale as The Sultan
This is the first time that ALADDIN has been released on Blu-ray on American soil. It has been available in both Germany as we’ll as the UK and I will be making a few comparisons in both the audio and video sections.
This new transfer looks gorgeous. There were some spots in the German release where the coloring was cranked way up. With the US release, there are still the brilliant colors of the city but they have been brought to a reasonable level. It’s a 1080p AVC transfer with a strong bitrate, bringing this classic to the realm of HD. The stunning line work and contrasting lets the details that might not have been seen on DVD stand out. The blacks are inky and there was no over processing that I could see. Overall, this is an amazing transfer and Disney should be proud.
The audio on the release is a robust DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix. Like the international releases, the sound effects move around the sound field the way that they should. The score sounds like its being performed live with clear highs and deep bass. The intricacies of the audio are separate and clean with nothing to complain about. Using the word beautiful just doesn’t describe the audio. It is like a well conducted symphony.
It is seldom that I give a release such a high rating when it comes to the bonus features but ALADDIN deserves it. It has a new set of extras and still includes the ones that were on the DVD and international Blu-rays.
-The Genie Outtakes: This extra has some of the outtakes from Robin Williams with video of sketches. This is one of the best bonus features on the release.
-Aladdin: Creating Broadway Magic: Actor Darren Criss shows some of the issues and what it takes to create a Broadway musical Disney Style.
-Unboxing Aladdin: This extra reveals some of the Easter eggs in the movie but clearly focused at children.
-Genie 101: The voice of Aladdin, Scott Weiner, goes over some of the references the film makes to pop culture in the past.
-Ron & Jon: You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me: John Musker and Ron Clements talk about their working relationship, friendship and the good old days at Disney.
Classic Bonus Features: The release has a lot of the bonus features from both the DVD and international Blu-rays.
-Audio Commentaries: There are two different audio commentaries on the release. One has /directors/producers John Musker, Ron Clements, and producer Amy Pell. The second is with the animators Andreas Deja, Will Finn, Eric Goldberg and Glen Keane.
-A Diamond in the Rough: The Making of Aladdin
-Alan Menken: Musical Renaissance Man
-The Art of Aladdin: Art Review with Filmmakers’ Commentary
“Proud of Your Boy” with Clay Aiken
“A Whole New World” with Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey
“A Whole New World” with Regina Belle & Peabo Bryson
-Disney Song Selection with Optional On-Screen Lyrics
-Inside the Genie’s Lamp: Guided Tour
-The Genie World Tour
Two-disc set w/ 1 Blu-ray and 1 DVD
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Disney’s ALADDIN has never looked better. This transfer has fixed some of the over saturation issues that the previous releases have had but still maintained the vibrance in the coloring. The audio is a welcomed upgrade that makes sure to utilize every channel, bringing the songs and moments to life. As for the bonus features, they are a mix for the old fans and some new ones but the mini tribute to Robin Williams is excellent. Overall, this is clearly the definitive version of the film and worth the upgrade.