- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
After the twin triumphs of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast with huge grosses, critical acclaim, and awards pouring in, Disney’s success continued unabated with Aladdin, at the time the biggest animation hit in the studio’s history. Disney spent $35 million on bringing this animated musical to the screen, an enormous sum at the time though relative peanuts now, but the money shows up on screen in one of the most raucous, ravishing romps in animation history. But this was the first Disney animated hit set in the past with an unquestionably modern sensibility to it with multitudes of allusions to (then) present day events and personalities which, while undoubtedly funny, tend to date the picture now for younger viewers who won’t have a clue who Rodney Dangerfield or Ed Sullivan was and references which will likely become even more obscure as future generations continue to watch and still enjoy this terrific movie adventure.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 31 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copykeep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 10/13/2015
The Production Rating: 4/5
What those future viewers may appreciate, though, is an absolutely dazzling array of state-of-the art animation techniques that shamelessly show off the genius behind the animation factory at Disney in 1992. This is the fastest paced, most frenetically executed animated movie to its time (the only thing that approaches it is 1951's Alice in Wonderland, also from Disney), and its eye-popping color palette combined with the breakneck pacing and superb voice characterizations make it a true Disney original, a one of a kind feature cartoon experience.
The famous tale of the street urchin whose magical experiences with a flying carpet and a magic lamp were adapted from 1001 Arabian Nights for the film story which begins quite sedately and predictably. In the first half-hour, there is very little to suggest that we're about to witness something unique. Aladdin (Scott Weinger, singing voice by Brad Kane) is whisked away by an evil wazir (Jonathan Freeman) to enter a forbidden desert vault and return with its treasure, a magic lamp of inestimable power. He also meets the stubbornly determined daughter of the local sultan, Jasmine (Linda Larkin, singing voice by Lea Salonga), who refuses to marry on command and insists on marrying for love.
Perhaps the fact that Robin Williams voices the narrator of the story gives a slight clue that there will be hijinks ahead, but when his voice later issues from the magical Genie of the lamp, the film sets off on a whirlwind tale of romance, adventure, and intrigue, a sort of animated Indiana Jones complete with snakes, evil wazirs, narrow escapes, and the supernatural. Throughout, there are glimpses of earlier Disney epics (the climactic battle between Aladdin and the wazir is straight out of Sleeping Beauty with a giant python substituting for a dragon; the romantic ballad "A Whole New World" echoes dozens of ballads like "I'm Wishing" or "Someone's Waiting for You" from earlier features), but the total package is as far from the sedate majesties of Beauty and the Beast or Bambi as it's possible to be.
Robin Williams' Genie was a once-in-a-lifetime achievement for the comic actor. Surely the most memorable animated character from the Disney canon, the magical sprite is able to transform himself at will, conjuring up in animation the limitless gonzo of Williams' creatively insane mind in such startlingly swift images that one would have to view the film three or four times to have even an outside chance of comprehending them all. The movie misses a wonderfully ironic climax by not having the Genie revealed to be the narrator of the film (that was the original intention), but it's only a small quibble at best.
A few other minor problems mar only slightly the effectiveness of the picture. The five-tune song score is melodic without being (apart from its Oscar-winning “A Whole New World”) especially unforgettable (in comparison, there isn’t any song in The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast that isn’t memorable). There are two production numbers: "Prince Ali" and the more effective "Friend Like Me," another Williams field day. But even when the Genie isn't in the picture, the animators can't help but be turned on to his electric influence, so the animation takes on herculean amounts of energy and pizzazz throughout.
Most of the voices chosen fit the other roles to perfection. The casting of separate singing and speaking voices for Princess Jasmine and Aladdin are a bit puzzling. Tony-winning actress Lea Salonga sings the Jasmine role beautifully, so why wasn't she used throughout? Similarly, Brad Kane who sings the title role also has Broadway credits and could easily have acted the dramatic portions of the script. (This doesn't take anything away from Linda Larkin or Scott Weinger who act the roles very well.) Also, if directors John Musker and Ron Clements do allow comic Gilbert Gottfried too much noisy blustering as the wazir's irksome parrot, it thankfully doesn't damage the scenes too severely, and his squawking is often very funny. Jonathan Freeman beautifully intones the devilishly evil Jafar with just the right dash of camp behind his wickedness.
Pictorially, viewers won't soon forget the exciting escape from the molten lava, the perfectly charming adventures of the flying carpet and the monkey Abu whose personalities are as well defined as any of the people inhabiting the frame, and the most visually lush color scheme of any movie ever undertaken by Disney or any other studio.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The film has been framed here at 1.85:1 and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Available in other regions for a year, this release doesn’t disappoint in terms of clarity of image or brilliance of color. The neon hues used to paint these majestic pictures continue to awe and are not spoiled by any noise, bleeding colors, or banding. Contrast is perfection throughout, and black levels are as inky as they’re possible to be. The movie has been divided into 25 chapters.
Audio Rating: 5/5
Disney offers a repurposed DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track. Purists may lament no theatrical audio track even in a lossy mix, but all others will be too busy enjoying the marvelously wide sound spread especially to the musical elements of the movie. Ensemble singers are often isolated in one of the rear channels, and directionalized singing voices and speech are a common and most impressive occurrence while the orchestrations allow for a wide spread of the music through the entire soundfield. Dialogue is also clearly presented (mostly in the center channel) with atmospheric effects getting split treatment in the fronts and rears.
Special Features Rating: 5/5
Audio Commentaries: directors John Musker and Ron Clements and producer Amy Pell share one track while animators Andreas Deja, Will Finn, Eric Goldberg, and Glen Keane take part in the other. For the complete Aladdin experience, one must listen to both tracks as much valuable information is imparted about the film’s chaotic production.
The Genie Outtakes (8:53, HD): as a tribute to the late Robin Williams, directors John Musker and Ron Clements and Genie animator Eric Goldberg introduce a series of Williams audio outtakes not used in the finished film accompanied by storyboards and animated clips.
Aladdin: Creating Broadway Magic (18:53, HD): Darren Criss hosts a look at the making of the Broadway musical adaptation of the movie currently playing to sold out houses in New York. The play’s director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw and composer Alan Menken along with cast members Adam Jacobs, Jonathan Freeman, and James Monroe Inglehart relate the rocky road to Broadway success.
Unboxing Aladdin (4:40, HD): Disney Channel star Joey Bragg unboxes some props inspired by the movie and reveals some Easter Eggs hidden within the film.
Genie 101 (3:59, HD): original Aladdin voice Scott Weinger explains all of the references to real-life persons imitated by Robin Williams as the Genie.
Ron & John: You Ain't Never Had a Friend Like Me (5:36, HD): directors John Musker and Ron Clements talk about their thirty-nine year friendship.
DVD Bonus Features (SD unless otherwise noted): the following featurettes were ported over from the 2004 DVD release of the movie:
- Deleted Songs (13:57): four songs may be listened to in montage or separately with accompanying storyboards.
- Deleted Scenes (5:43): two scenes illustrated with storyboards may be played together or separately.
- Music Videos: “Proud of Your Boy” (2:20) performed by Clay Aiken along with original story reel for the cut song (2:18) and a behind the scene vignette on its making (3:20); “A Whole New World” (4:14) performed by Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey with a behind-the-scenes vignette on its making (3:46); “A Whole New World” (4:07) performed by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle.
- Song Selection (11:28, HD): instantly takes the viewer to the five songs in the film with optional sing along lyrics. These may also be viewed separately.
- Inside the Genie’s Lamp (10:13): Iago the parrot takes the viewer on a tour of the Genie’s abandoned lamp.
- The Genie World Tour (3:14): Iago and Jafar receive a series of postcards from the Genie as he enjoys his freedom.
- A Diamond in the Rough: The Making of Aladdin (1:10:52): the lengthy, frustrating road to bringing the movie to the screen is narrated by its directors, animators, and voice cast.
- Alan Menken Tribute (19:55): a mini-biography of the eight-time Oscar-winning composer.
- Art Review (8:45): directors John Musker and Ron Clements describe the visual inspirations used for the look of the finished film.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:50); The Return of Jafar Trailer (0:43), Aladdin and the King of Thieves Trailer (1:30).
DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet for iTunes enclosed in the case.
Promo Trailers (HD): The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, Tomorrowland.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
For a movie that was so wildly popular in its day, it’s fairly surprising how long it has taken for Aladdin to come to Blu-ray. Still, the wait was definitely worth it since there are a treasure trove of interesting bonus features both old and new and a superb video and audio transfer to enjoy. Highly Recommended!
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
Support HTF when you buy this title: