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What can I say about Ron Clements and John Musker's Aladdin that readers don’t already know? Not much, it turns out. Personally, I find Robin Williams’ schtick is exhausting, but that’s my problem and one I’m sure few readers share. Besides, supervising animator Eric Goldberg’s Al Hirschfeld-derived Genie animation is awfully hard to resist. Dated pop-culture jokes aside, Aladdin endures, because its narrative simplicities fulfill very basic and universal themes without dumbing them down. The Arab stereotypes are relatively harmless, which is impressive, given the less delicate treatment of such things in the early ‘90s. Even a non-fan like myself can appreciate fantastic technical spectacle. Aladdin is perhaps the most successful in what is considered the generally ground-breaking ‘Disney Renaissance.’ The digital and traditional technologies are beautifully blended without the awkward separation of elements seen in even some of the studio’s newer ‘traditional’ animation releases.

 Aladdin: Diamond Edition

Video


Aladdin is the last of Disney’s ‘classic’ animated features to hit the HD format. If memory serves, only war-time anthologies Saludos Amigos (1942), The Three Caballeros (1944), Make Mine Music (1946), Fun and Fancy Free (1947), and Melody Time (1948), and red-headed stepchild The Black Cauldron (1985) are still trapped in standard definition purgatory. Whatever the cause of the delay (like many of the big-ticket Disney animated movies, it was already released in Europe a while ago), the results are a very nice, near studio-best 1.85:1 (reframed from the DVD’s 1.66:1 aspect ratio), 1080p transfer that will surely please casual and fussbucket fans. What immediately strikes me here is not so much the sharper details – which are quite sharp and wonderfully complex, by the way – but the eye-searing colour quality. The rich blues, reds, purples, violets, and, of course, golds are beautiful, consistent, and cleanly blended (aside from a handful of possibly intendedly banded background gradations). The tighter details reveal charming little imperfections in the hand-drawn elements and, unlike DVD versions, the sharpened edges don’t have problems with aliasing effects. There are small signs of the same kind digital tinkering that has marred other Disney animated Blu-ray transfers, but whoever did it was subtle in their approach. The lack of grain is not particularly suspicious, because Aladdin was digitally painted, but there are some slightly suspicious smoothing effects. The hand-painted backgrounds still have plenty of texture and those hand-drawn lines aren’t blobby, like the ones seen on the Sword in the Stone Blu-ray.

 Aladdin: Diamond Edition

Audio


Aladdin sounds great in brand new, remixed DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound. The original Dolby Digital codec leaves plenty of room for small changes and additional multi-channel movements. There are a handful of over-cranked effects that poke awkwardly out of the busier scenes, but I honestly can’t recall the DVD’s 5.1 well enough to know if this is a new or old problem. Alan Menken music – coupled, of course, with Howard Ashman and Tim Rice’s lyrics – gets the biggest uncompressed boost. The intricate and boisterous instrumentations are loud and crisp without any notable high end distortion. The non-musical highlights (which are obvious for anyone that has seen the film) include the epic failed escape from the Cave of Wonders and the big climax, where Jafar gains genie powers and briefly controls the cosmos. My favourite thing about this track is the fact that Jafar’s voice is given a constantly heavy LFE presence. In fact, the bass track is pretty spectacular overall – punchy without warbling or overwhelming the more subtle aural cues that help fill out the channels during musical moments.

Note: The infamous moment where Aladdin supposedly says ‘Take your clothes off/take off your clothes’ is clear enough to hear a distinct ‘Good kitty. Take off.’ I don’t know if anything was changed for this release, but I certainly don’t hear what everyone is hearing.

 Aladdin: Diamond Edition

Extras


  • The Genie Outtakes (8:50, HD) – A collection of Robin Williams’ outtakes hosted by the directors and supervising animator Eric Goldberg. These alternate impressions play over temporary storyboards illustrations.
  • Aladdin: Creating Broadway Magic (18:50, HD) – Broadway star Darren Criss hosts a look at the making of the stage version of Aladdin.
  • Unboxing Aladdin (4:40, HD) – Joey Bragg from Disney Channel's Liv & Maddy discusses the film’s cameos and in-jokes.
  • Genie 101 (HD, 4:00) – Scott Weinger (the voice of Aladdin) runs down some of the Genie’s celebrity impressions.
  • Ron & Jon: You Ain't Never Had a Friend Like Me (5:40, HD) – The directors talk about their time at the Disney studio. It includes footage from their original animation tests and photos of them during early days.
  • Classic DVD Bonus Features:
    • Audio Commentary with producers/directors John Musker & Ron Clements and co-producer Amy Pell
    • Audio Commentary with supervising animators Andreas Deja, Will Finn, Eric Goldberg, and Glen Keane
    • Deleted Songs:
      • ”Proud of Your Boy” (Original Demo) (4:00, SD)
      • ”You Can Count on Me” (2:20, SD)
      • ”Humiliate the Boy” (3:50, SD)
      • ”Why Me” (3:40, SD)
    • Deleted/Alternate Scenes:
      • Aladdin & Jasmine's First Meeting (2:50, SD)
      • Aladdin in the Lap of Luxury (2:50, SD)
    • Music Videos:
      • ”Proud of Your Boy” music video with Clay Aiken (2:20, SD)
      • ”Proud of Your Boy” original story reel (2:20, SD)
      • Behind the Scenes of “Proud of Your Boy" (3:20, SD)
      • ”A Whole New World" music video with Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey (4:10, SD)
      • Behind the Scenes of “A Whole New World" (3:50, SD)
      • “A Whole New World" music video with Regina Belle & Peabo Bryson (4:00, SD)
    • Disney Song Selection (with optional on-screen lyrics) (11:30, HD)
    • Inside the Genie's Lamp: Guided Tour (6:10, SD)
    • The Genie World Tour (3:10, SD)
    • A Diamond in the Rough: The Making of Aladdin documentary (70:50, SD)
    • Alan Menken: Musical Renaissance Man (20:00, SD)
    • The Art of Aladdin: Art Review (with filmmakers' commentary) (8:50, SD)
    • Trailers for Aladdin, The Return of Jafar, and Aladdin and the King of Thieves


 Aladdin: Diamond Edition

Overall


Aladdin has been given the royal treatment for its Diamond Edition Blu-ray debut, including a vibrant and sharp transfer, a new bombastic and warm DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack, and a nice assortment of new and classic extras.

 Aladdin: Diamond Edition

 Aladdin: Diamond Edition

 Aladdin: Diamond Edition

 Aladdin: Diamond Edition
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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