Aladdin: Diamond Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (13th November 2015).
The Film

Full disclosure: I have incredibly fond memories of "Aladdin" (1992). It was the first big Disney animated film I went to see theatrically. My previous exposure to Disney was on VHS, and their 80's output wasn't as strong as earlier efforts. The release of "The Little Mermaid" (1989) would launch a slew of movies that would dominate the 90's and bring Disney back to greatness. For "Aladdin" we lined up for tickets (which stretched around the block) and was transported to a magical kingdom. The movie was hugely successful taking on over $500 million on a $28 million budget and everyone agreed that Robin Williams was one of the best things about the film in an inspired casting decision.

"Aladdin" tells the tale of a street urchin (Scott Weinger) and his monkey Abu (Frank Welker) who encounters the Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin) in the city's bustling market. Jasmine has been forced behind the palace walls, seeks to be free - she sneaks out in an act of defiance. Aladdin makes a connection with the lovely princess but is caught fraternizing with royalty and the Sultan's advisor, the evil Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) throws Aladdin in jail. Jafar is deviously planning to overthrow the Sultan and take control of the land with the help of a magical lamp, but legend permits him from attaining the lamp because only a "diamond in the rough" can retrieve the lamp from the Cave of Wonders. So with the promise of freedom he uses Aladdin to retrieve the lamp, which unleashes a loquacious Genie (Robin Williams) and adventure ensues.

Disney marketed this film aggressively, fantastic trailers, TV spots, radio spots, merchandizing was everywhere and the film was the talk of the holiday season in 1992 and the film's staying power is thanks to several key factors. The film is beautifully animated, features memorable and loveable characters, and borrows from popular myths and legends weaved into a simple story that carries universal themes. The recipe for success and something Disney has been doing well since Walt opened the doors to the animation department.

"Aladdin" is a classic tale, Disney-fied, meaning they've toned down the darkest aspects of the stories (mainly from "A Thousand and One Nights" and "The Thief of Baghdad") and populated the film with a collection of songs that'll have all the kids singing. The film features epic moments, memorable thanks mostly to the incomparable Robin Williams, he breathes such incredible life into the Genie instantly making him an animated icon that will live forever in Disney canon and in doing so tarnished their relationship with the star. Williams agreed to take role for scale on several conditions - his name or image would not be used for marketing, and the Genie character not take more than 25% of space on advertising artwork ... all these conditions where broken by the studio. Why would they damage their relationship with the star? Because - money. The marketing campaign boasting Robin Williams was key to the box office success of the film. Eventually the Disney company would apologize for their actions.

Despite the company's sneaky back-stabbing marketing, they truly had a hit on their hands, it's a highly enjoyable film for both kids and adults and remains a classic among the Disney animated catalog, definitely worthy of adding (or upgrading) to your collection, even though Gilbert Gottfried is still annoying as ever.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 mastered in high-definition 1080p 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4 compression. "Aladdin" is one of Disney's most popular films and finally it makes its debut in high-definition blu-ray and it doesn't disappoint. The overall transfer is not perfect, it does have some flaws but before we get into that let's talk about the positives. The image is bright and clean, this is one of Disney's most colorful films and it looks dazzling in HD. The image looks crisp, clean and free from most blemishes, animation lines look neat and bold too. The problems with this transfer are minuscule but evident - there is some banding, macroblocking and aliasing that occasionally pop up here and there and seems to be issues relating to the source material.

Audio

Three audio tracks are included in English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround (48kHz/24-bit) as well as French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. This soundtrack simply soars, it's a fantastically immersive audio track that balances dialogue, songs, effects, ambience and score so wonderfully you'll get lost in the film. Precisely the purpose of a solid audio track. Optional subtitles are included in English, English for the hearing impaired, French, and Spanish.

Extras

Disney's "Diamond Edition" blu-rays are know for solid A/V transfers and a collection of fantastic supplements, this disc is no exception and includes two audio commentaries, bloopers, a collection of featurettes, a documentary, an original demo, a collection of deleted songs, deleted scenes, music videos, theatrical trailers among other extras. Below is a closer look at these extras.

DISC ONE: BLU-RAY

First up is a feature-length audio commentary with producers/directors John Musker and Ron Clements and co-producer Amy Pell. These participants comment on the film's production, the challenges and on working with the talented voice cast among other production trivia. It's a solid track worth listening to.

The second feature-length audio commentary is with supervising animators Andreas Deja, Will Finn, Eric Goldberg and Glen Keane. These animators comment on the various characters that they were assigned to develop and animate as well as working with the voice cast to help bring them to life. They comment on the chaotic nature of the production and on delivering quality work quickly among other things.

"The Genie Outtakes" is a blooper reel (1080p) which runs for 8 minutes 33 seconds, all of Williams' lines where ad-libbed, this is a great showcase some bloopers and outtakes cut to some storyboards and rough animation.

"Aladdin: Creating Broadway Magic" is a featurette (1080p) which runs for 18 minutes 53 seconds and takes a look at the life broadway production based on the movie.

"Unboxing Aladdin" is a featurette (1080p) which runs for 4 minutes 40 seconds, this clip takes a look at the props inspired by the movie and unveils some cool easter eggs in the movie that you may not be aware of.

"Genie 101" featurette (1080p) runs for 3 minutes 59 seconds, this clip takes a look at Williams' performance as the Genie and the various character inspirations.

"Ron & Jon: You Ain't Never Had a Friend Like Me" is a featurette (1080p) which runs for 5 minutes 36 seconds, in this feature the directors discuss their long working relationship.

The disc also feature a collection of "Classic Bonus Features" which where produced for the DVD edition a few years ago. They include:

"A Diamond in the Rough: The Making of Aladdin" is a feature-length documentary (480p) which runs for 70 minutes 52 seconds, this is one of the best supplements on this disc, it takes a lengthy look at the troubled production and feature plenty of interviews with the key cast and crew. If you haven't already seen this feature from the previous DVD release then know is your chance to check it out, highly recommended.

"Alan Menken: Musical Renaissance Man" featurette (480p) which runs for 19 minutes 55 seconds, this clip takes a look at the film's composer, his process and on creating the music for this film.

"The Art of Aladdin: Art Review" is a featurette with audio commentary by producers/directors John Musker and Ron Clements (480p) which runs for 8 minutes 45 seconds, this takes a look at the art design process for the film as the directors comment on the visual aesthetic.

A series of four deleted songs (480p) are included:

- "Proud of Your Boy" (Original Demo) which runs for 3 minutes 58 seconds.
- "You Can Count on Me" which runs for 2 minutes 22 seconds.
- "Humiliate the Boy" which runs for 3 minutes 54 seconds.
- "Why Me" which runs for 3 minutes 42 seconds.

Two deleted/alternate scenes (480p), these are presented as rough storyboards are next and include:

- "Aladdin & Jasmine's First Meeting" which runs for 2 minutes 51 seconds.
- "Aladdin in the Lap of Luxury" which runs for 2 minutes 52 seconds.

A music section features the following supplements:

- "Proud of Your Boy" is a music video by Clay Aiken (480p) which runs for 2 minutes 20 seconds.
- "Proud of Your Boy" original story reel (480p) runs for 2 minutes 18 seconds, this is a reel cut to the song.
- "Behind the Scenes of Proud of Your Boy" featurette (480p) which runs for 3 minutes 20 seconds, takes a look at the making of the music video.
- "A Whole New World" music video (480p) by Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey which runs for 4 minutes 14 seconds.
- "Behind the Scenes of A Whole New World" is a featurette (480p) which runs for 3 minutes 46 seconds and takes a look at the making of the video.
- "A Whole New World" is another music video (480p) this time by Regina Belle & Peabo Bryson runs for 4 minutes 7 seconds.
- Disney song selection is included with optional on-screen lyrics (1080p) runs for 11 minutes 28 seconds, this is basically a karaoke sing-a-long feature.

Next up is "Inside the Genie's Lamp: Guided Tour", a featurette (480p) which runs for 6 minutes 13 seconds, Iago takes viewers on a tour inside the Genie's home.

"The Genie World Tour" is a featurette (480p) which runs for 3 minutes 14 seconds, a fun little clip about the Genie touring the world and sending Jafar and Iago postcards.

Rounding out the extras are the film's original theatrical trailer (1080p) which runs for 2 minutes 50 seconds.

There are bonus trailers (1080p) for:

- "The Return of Jafar" which runs for 43 seconds.
- "Aladdin and the King of Thieves" which runs for 1 minute 30 seconds.

DISC TWO: DVD

This disc is a DVD version of the film. Also included are codes for iTunes and Google Play digital HD copies.

Packaging

Packaged in a Blu-ray keep case housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

Easily one of the best Disney animated films of all time, there's no reason not to buy it.

The Film: A+ Video: B+ Audio: A+ Extras: A+ Overall: A-

 


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