The Film (5/5)
Disney's The Little Mermaid was released in 1989, and began a second "Golden" era for the famed animation house. The prior 15 or so years had proven to not be the best in terms of quality for Disney, and the decade between 1989-1999 proved to be one of the studio’s finest filmmaking decades in their history creating such landmark fare as Beauty and The Beast, The Lion King, and Pocahontas. However, in the middle of that string of successes Disney created one of their most exciting, fun, and successful endeavors, Aladdin.
Aladdin is a very loose retelling of the tale from 1001 Arabian Nights with some other influences from the same text, and put through the Disney storytelling machine. The film tells the story of Aladdin, who along with his sidekick/monkey Abu steal food off the street to survive. Meanwhile, the Princess of Agrabah, Jasmine is getting fed up with her life within the palace walls. She has never seen the outside world, and her Father and his assistant Jafar have been trying to set her up to be married.
One day she sneaks outside the palace, and gets in a bit of trouble in the city, when Aladdin comes to her rescue. They fall in love, but Aladdin is a "street rat", not a Prince like is required by law. He has also been jailed for kidnapping the Princess. In order to get out of jail, Jafar hires Aladdin to enter the Cave of Wonders to retrieve a lamp. Things don't entirely go as expected, and Aladdin rubs the lamp, and gains 3 wishes from the wild genie inside.
Aladdin is one of the most well rounded of the 90's Disney animations. The Disney "Princess" formula was in full swing by the time of Aladdin, and Jasmine certainly made for a fine entry into their ranks. However, the film also is an effective blend of romance, action, adventure, and song. The latter of which was such a standout element in the film it garnered an Academy Award for "A Whole New World". The film's animation is top notch, and offers a blend of gorgeously rendered hand drawn animation with well integrated CGI animation in the Cave of Wonders sequence.
Aladdin for a film that is over 20 years old still holds up well today, and hasn't dated as much as one would have expected. The performances from the voice cast are excellent throughout, of course, no review of the film would be complete without mentioning the anarchic and hilarious performance of the late Robin Williams as the Genie, whose very performance adds to the overall energy of this already exciting piece.
Aladdin has been presented by Disney in it's original 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the films original aspect ratio. It has been 10 years since the Platinum Edition DVD, and it was certainly time for Aladdin to get a Blu-ray overhaul, and it certainly has gotten one. Fine detail is excellent, the original colors of the film are reproduced, and pop from the screen, and blacks are inky and deep. There is some minor banding issues to contend with here, but they are rarely noticeable.
The DTS-HD MA 7.1 track is similarly excellent with dialogue, score, and songs coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues with the track.
All the Platinum DVD extras have been ported over for this release. Disney also provides a pair of commentary tracks, Genie outtakes that showcase Robin Williams performance, multiple featurettes, interviews with cast and crew, Disney Channel behind the scenes pieces, and even a look at adapting Aladdin for Broadway.
Aladdin is one of the finest achievements for Disney in the 1990's, a period when their output was quite strong. The Blu-ray looks and sounds phenomenal and is packed with extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.