Review by Michael Jacobson
Robin Williams, Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin, Gilbert Gottfried
Directors: John Musker and Ron Clements
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Enhanced Home Theater Mix
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.66:1
Studio: Walt Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 90 Minutes
Release Date: October 5, 2004
all so magical!”
only two films, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, the
Disney studios, who were at the forefront of animation for most of their
history, began an early 90s renaissance of the art form with great stories,
wonderful characters, superb artistic values and great music.
With Aladdin, they obviously felt they earned the right to kick up
their heels a bit.
conceived as a film project by Oscar winning songwriters Alan Menken and Howard
Ashman, Aladdin may have begun as another venture by Disney into the
realm of classic fairy tales, but it ended up as a comic riot thanks to the
brilliant casting of Robin Williams as the genie. He got a small chance to prove that his energy and comedy
stylings were a perfect match for animation in the mediocre offering Ferngully,
but with this picture, there was absolutely no holding back.
His vocal performance was so impeccable, in fact, that the Golden Globes
honored him with a special achievement award for it.
enough to overcome the fact that the movie doesn’t quite have the magic of the
mermaid or the wonder of the beast. Aladdin
was a more simple tale of heroes and villains, of true love and believing in
yourself. The characters weren’t
as instantly memorable (save for the genie), but the music made it soar, and
Robin Williams made it pure escapist fun. And
it was popular enough to spawn sequels and a popular afternoon television
(Weinger) is a common street criminal in Agraba, but dreams of being something
more. Jasmine (Larkin) is a
princess who longs to escape the routine of palace life and the royal deadline
placed on her to marry. When they
meet in the streets, it could be the beginning of something wonderful.
fate, in the form of the evil Jafar, has a different plan for Aladdin.
Eager to retrieve a mythological lamp from the strange cave of wonders,
he enlists the boy’s help with the intention of betraying him.
But the lamp ends up in Aladdin’s hands…and that’s where the fun
a fabulously funny and eager-to-please genie at his command and three wishes to
make, Aladdin sets off to become the one thing he needs to be to win Jasmine’s
hand…a prince. But the price of
not being true to himself comes with a lesson that will eventually threaten the
entire kingdom, leaving Aladdin the street boy and not Aladdin the prince to
make it right again.
story is simple enough, but the pleasure is in the frantic comic energy created
by the animators keeping up with Robin Williams’ performance.
That, and the beautiful Oscar winning score by Alan Menken and the bevy
of terrific songs, including “A Whole New World” (another Oscar winner).
Aladdin may not quite achieve the same level of greatness as some of
Disney’s other film offerings of the period, it remains one of the most
hand-clapping fun and one of their surest crowd pleasers.
You can’t keep a sour look on your face while this movie plays.
looks great on DVD, especially in the hands of Disney.
This is another vibrant, colorful, dazzling display of anamorphic
perfection that will treat your eyes from beginning to end.
Everything renders crisply and cleanly, with no distortions, blurred
lines, bleeding or aging artifacts to mar the presentation.
extended home theatre 5.1 mixes Disney has utilized with their Platinum Edition
discs continue to be the most theatrical-like presentations I’ve heard.
This is a slam-bang digital mix, filled with soaring music, thunderous
bottom end, clear dialogue and plenty of smooth cross-over action.
The only noticeable change is that the controversial hidden line from the
original home video release has been mixed out…when Aladdin shoos the tiger,
you used to could hear him softly say, “Good teenagers…take off your
clothes!”. Guess some didn’t
find that amusing!
Disney Platinum Edition discs continue to be packed, and this double disc
offering isn’t an exception. Disc
One contains four deleted songs, including “Proud of Your Boy”, two deleted
scenes, commentary with the directors, commentary with the animators, two new
music videos with making-of specials featuring Clay Aiken, Jessica Simpson and
Nick Lachey plus the original “A Whole New World” video with Peabo Bryson
and Regina Belle, a song index with sing-along lyrics, a pop-up trivia subtitle
track, plus bonus trailers and a preview of the second disc.
Two has everything else…the main one is “A Diamond in the Rough”, an
extensive look at the making of the movie.
You can watch it interactively, choosing where to go next as you go
along, or use play-all, or pick and choose from the index.
There are also looks at the art of the movie and a profile of Alan Menken.
The publicity menu has trailers galore, for this movie and the sequels as
the kids, there are some interactive games, including a virtual magic carpet
ride (similar to the Disney Quest attraction, I think), where you have to try
and rescue Jasmine. There are
puzzles to solve along the way, but they only give you one shot each at them, so
it gets a little frustrating. There is a world tour with the genie, a three
wishes game where Jafar is now a wish-granting fair attraction (if you can get
the coin in his mouth), and a 3-D tour of the genie’s lamp hosted by the
parrot Iago (is that Robin Leach I hear?).
animated menus and a guide booklet round out the extras.