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Blu-ray Review: Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ Diamond Edition
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Aladdin Diamond Edition Blu-ray banner

Aladdin
Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
Directors: John Musker and Ron Clements
Cast: Robin Williams, Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin, Gilbert Gottfried, Douglas Seale, Frank Welker
Music: Alan Menken; Lyrics: Howard Ashman
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Release date: October 13, 2015

Disney’s Aladdin was part of the studio’s great animated musical boom in the 1990s that saw massive hits with Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid (released November 1989). While Walt Disney Pictures’ animated wing had cornered the market previously with classics like 1939’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and 1940’s Pinocchio, Aladdin began a new trend that would propel the studio even further — signing on major celebrities to their voice cast. In this case, they snagged the great comedic actor Robin Williams.

For Aladdin, Williams, who had had recent success with dramatic roles in Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, and The Fisher King, voiced Genie, a spirit with phenomenal cosmic powers, and as we learn, itty bitty living space (he lives inside a magic lamp!). What could have been just another retelling of a classic tale — for this, the story of Aladdin in the Arabic folktale One Thousand and One Nights — accompanied by catchy tunes, was instead transformed into something much more captivating, humorous, and lovable thanks to Williams’ voice work.

Williams also voiced The Peddler, a merchant at the start of the film who begins to the story of the famous magic lamp and how it changed a man’s life in Agrabah. That man, of course, is Aladdin, a petty thief tasked by the evil Jafar with recovering a magic lamp from the Cave of Wonder. Unbeknownst to the young thief, inside the lamp resides a powerful Genie, who’s able to grant him three wishes. Once Williams’ giant blue Genie swirls onto the screen, he immediately takes over the film, recounting rapidly all of his skills, and never lets up from there. The character as written is a good one, but the actor inserted a lot of impersonations and pop culture references with his improvisations, bringing it to a level that no ordinary man could have.

The story itself is a classic one — Aladdin, a street urchin, feels the pull of a more powerful destiny; his eventual love interest, the Sultan’s daughter Princess Jasmine, is tired of her life walled inside the palace with no freedom; Jafar, the Grand Vizier to the Sultan, manipulates his benevolent, but oblivious liege to further his own agenda, even if it means eliminating everyone in his path. Common Disney elements are sprinkled throughout with colorful background characters, as well as the typical annoying sidekick that kids find amusing (Jafar’s bird Iago; Aladdin’s monkey Abu). Though the story contains classic good vs. evil tropes, there’s the aspect of Aladdin’s internal struggle with his newfound power, courtesy of the jinn, who is trapped in his own cage (much like Jasmine) until someone decides to use one of their wishes to set him free.

There’s a lot of conflict within this children’s movie, along with several more mature themes, which makes it appealing to older audiences, too.

Then, of course, there’s the soundtrack — what is an animated Disney film without the music? Scored by the great Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast), the soundtrack contained some of Disney’s most popular songs, that are still enjoyed till this day: the opening “Arabian Nights,” Aladdin’s intro tune “One Jump Ahead,” the insanely catchy Genie spotlight “Friend Like Me” (performed by Robin Williams), and the award-winning ballad “A Whole New World,” which sees Jasmine and Aladdin falling for each other during a magic carpet ride.

Aladdin has more than earned its stamp as a Disney Classic, so if you haven’t seen it yet, now’s the perfect time to grab this Diamond Edition, which includes the film on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD. If you’re already a fan, you’ll enjoy the many hours of bonus features included in this release, some of which is all new to this Diamond edition.

See below for a look at all of the bonus features on this Diamond Blu-ray Edition, along with my descriptions and thoughts on them. There’s also some videos, as well as a photo gallery down below.

Bonus Features

— Genie Outtakes [8:53] The directors and the supervising animator for the Genie intro this feature, which is the outtakes of Robin Williams. They talk about him as an actor, what it was like to work with him, and what he brought to the film. Robin Williams recorded his lines from their script, but also did a lot of improv, including different voices and impersonations. Williams’ dialogue is accompanied by rough sketches. There’s so much that Williams improv’d that it must have been difficult for the filmmakers to choose which takes to use

— Aladdin: Creating Broadway Magic [18:53]: Darren Criss hosts this feature, which talks about bringing Disney’s animated classic Aladdin to the stage, where it’s currently enjoying a successful run on Broadway. There’s interviews with the Broadway cast and the choreographer on how they feel about doing a live-action stage show for an animated tale, and the struggles they faced. There were some issues translating some of the elements of the animated version to the live stage, like the magic flying carpet and the part where Genie juggles his head. While the animated feature had music by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice contributed lyrics to new songs for the stage, as Ashman had passed away. This featurette includes behind-the-scenes footage, as well as a look at the live version, which is a rare treat. The bonus feature is very insightful, and if you haven’t seen Aladdin on Broadway already, you’ll surely want to after viewing this.

— Unboxing Aladdin [4:00] Like all Disney animated features, Aladdin has some Easter eggs that call back to other Disney movies, and other items hidden gems within the movie. In this feature, host Joey Bragg, from Disney Channel’s Liv & Maddy, reveals some of the secrets details in Aladdin.

— Genie 101 [3:59] The role of Genie is Aladdin is one of Robin William’s most memorable roles, and this featurette is dedicated to the late actor, who died in 2014. This feature, which is hosted by Scott Weinger, who voiced Aladdin (he also played DJ Tanner’s boyfriend Steve on TV’s Full House), shows the many aspects that influenced the creation of the Genie character, as well as the many famous references and impersonations that Genie did in the film.

— Ron & John: You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me [5:36] Aladdin directors John Musker and Ron Clements reveal their long history of collaborating together for Disney projects, such as Beauty and the Beast.

— DMA Exclusive: Deleted Song – “My Finest Hour” – A deleted Jafar song that’s never been seen before, and Includes an introduction from the directors. This song is only included on the Disney Movies Anywhere version.

— CLASSIC BONUS FEATURES: These are the bonus features that were included when the film was original released on DVD.

– Deleted Songs
– Deleted Scenes
– Music Videos

These are deleted songs and scenes from Aladdin that were included on the original DVD release. These deleted items are presented here with rough, unfinished animation, and include brief introductions by the filmmakers explaining why they were cut and some details about them. The song “Proud Of Your Boy,” is the original demo recording version with Clay Aiken singing, and it was later fleshed out for the Aladdin on Broadway production, currently running in New York City. “Why Me” is another Jafar-centric tune, where the villainous vizier complains about how he should be the Sultan. The deleted scenes, include explanatory introductions from the filmmakers and very rough, storyboard-type animation. There’s an alternate version of Aladdin and Jasmine’s first meeting, as well as a sequence in the movie where Aladdin has a mother and she’s not exactly enthusiastic about her son’s reliance on the Genie. Here, she’s ashamed of her son’s behavior; the song “Proud Of Your Boy” also deals with this subject matter, which was removed from the final film. The music videos show the deleted songs, as well as behind-the-scenes of the making-of the videos, as well as the popular hit tunes like “A Whole New World” (performed by Peabo Bryson and Patti LaBelle, along with an alternate take performed by Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey,)

· Deleted Song / “Proud Of Your Boy” (Original Demo Recording)
· Deleted Song / “You Can Count On Me”
· Deleted Song / “Humiliate The Boy”
· Deleted Song / “Why Me”
· Deleted Scene / “Aladdin & Jasmine’s First Meeting”
· Deleted Scene / “Aladdin in the Lap of Luxury”

– Song Selection: This feature pulls the song performances from the film so it can be watched separately, and includes an option to have the lyrics displayed on screen for ease of sing-a-long.

– Inside The Genie’s Lamp: Guided Tour [6:13]: Here, Jafar’s annoying bird sidekick Iago tours the inside of the Genie’s lamp, with a Robin Leach-eque (of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous) narration.

– The Genie’s World Tour [4:14]: Another short feature with Iago inside the lamp, being subjected to gloating postcards from the totally free Genie.

– A Diamond in the Rough: The Making of Aladdin [70:52]: This lengthy bonus feature is split up into many smaller featurettes, covering storyboards, voice acting, animation, artists’ assignments, the music, as well as the inspiration for the Aladdin story, the decision to remove certain elements that were originally in the script, and spotlights on animating the Genie, leading lady Jasmine (who is one of the popular Disney Princesses), Jafar, Aladdin, the magic carpet, and more. Getting to see the actors in their recording booth is a fun extra, especially the parts with Robin Williams.

– Alan Menken: Musical Renaissance Man [19:55] A look at composer Alan Menken, who did Aladdin, as well as many other Disney features throughout the years.

– The Art of Aladdin: Art Review with Filmmakers’ Commentary [8:45] Ron Clements and John Musker narrate this feature that goes through the concept art and their ideas for the look of the film.

– Audio Commentary: These are two full-length audio commentaries with the filmmakers. One is directors/producers Ron Clements and John Musker, with producer Amy Pell; the other is supervising animators Andreas Deja, Will Finn, Eric Goldberg, and Glen Keane. A lot of what is revealed is also part of the other bonus features, but fans of Aladdin will really enjoy rewatching with this feature turned on.

– Publicity: The original trailers for the three Aladdin movies: feature film Aladdin (1992), and its direct-to-home video sequels, The Return of Jafar (1994) and Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996).

Images

Video

Aladdin Diamond Edition on Blu-ray


See some of your favorite characters – Genie, Aladdin and Jasmine in the Aladdin Diamond Edition.

Aladdin Diamond Edition | Behind-The-Scenes Clip with Brad Kane (Voice of Aladdin)


See a behind-the-scenes clip with Brad Kane, the singing voice of Aladdin.

Aladdin Bonus – My Finest Hour Extended

Aladdin Diamond Edition Blu-ray

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