Aladdin on DVD
The latest in Disney's wonderful series of 2 disc Platinum Edition DVD's, Aladdin
is a timeless story beautifully told to the backing score of the great Alan
And as usual this THX-certified DVD is a spectacular digital disc that really
does its subject matter justice.
Aladdin, as everyone knows by now, is a street urchin who makes his living
by stealing the food he needs to survive. He meets princess Jasmine one day,
after she escapes from the palace to get away from the suffocating life she
leads. They hit if off, naturally, but being star crossed lovers it's going
to take a lot more than that to get them together permanently - and that's good
because otherwise it would be a very short movie!
The bad guy is Jafar, the evil vizier who covets world domination as well as
the luscious curves of Jasmine. And he knows just how to do it: get some street
wise urchin (guess who?) to retrieve a magic lamp and force the genie (voiced
in his manic tradition by Robin Williams) to do his bidding.
Well things don't work out for him as well as he'd like, either. Aladdin ends
up controlling the genie initially and uses him to return as a prince so he
has enough social standing to court the lovely Jasmine. But before all is said
and done Jafar gains control of the reluctant genie setting the scene for a
spectacular action sequence near the end in the grandest of Disney tradition,
reminiscent of such climactic battles as the ones from Sleeping Beauty and The
It's all quite fun and very entertaining, and along the way they managed to
slip in some lessons about telling the truth and being true to yourself, without
beating you over the head with them.
And of course this movie, created by many of those responsible for the masterpiece
"The Little Mermaid" that put Disney back on track again, features the abovementioned
Alan Menken score. Menken and songwriting partner Howard Ashman created the
marvelous tunes from "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty
and the Beast," among others, and thereby nearly single-handedly brought
the old-fashioned Broadway musical style back into fashion.
Alas, Howard Ashman died before Aladdin was finished and Tim Rice, who first
came to world wide fame with his lyrics for Jesus Christ Superstar, finished
the job. In this writer's opinion Menken and Ashman would have rivalled Rogers
and Hammerstein had their partnership not been terminated, and while Menken
still retains his talent the hits haven't been coming as consistently since.
But Aladdin features wonderful songs, from the hit "A Whole New World" to the
very Broadwayish "One Jump Ahead" and Williams' tour de force "Friend Like Me."
It's another classic score.
The DVD itself is typically top notch. The THX-certified disc features anamorphic
widescreen video, 16x9 TV compatible, and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround.
It also features the enhanced Home Theater mix we first noticed with Disney's
DVD or The Lion King. This seems to be the regular soundtrack after having received
a shot of steroids, and it's very good, with deep, rumbling bass and excellent
tonal balance. All the channels are used very well.
The video quality is spectacular. There's nary a trace of any flaws and the
detail and colors are all wonderfully rendered. This is a treat for the eyes
and ears, just like most of Disney's other Platinum titles.
And of course there are plenty of extras.
Disc one contains the feature, some deleted songs and scenes, a "Backstage
Disney" feature that accesses commentary tracks and "fun facts" as well as "Music
and more," which lets you access various songs (complete with onscreen lyrics)
directly. There are also audio commentary
Disc two, as expected, piles on the extras. "Games and Activities" includes
a self guided tour of the Genie's lamp and a 3 wishes game. I particularly enjoyed
the magic carpet adventure that, while pointless, is a breathtaking computer
animated first person trip on the magic carpet. It's the closest you'll get
to riding a roller coaster without leaving your easy chair.
And of course there's plenty more, including features on the making of the
film, a look at Alan Menkin, info from the producers, animators, musicians and
In all, a typically well done Disney DVD, and a wonderful family adventure
that'll give your home theater a nice workout.
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