Aladdin appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This became a highly pleasing presentation.
Sharpness looked strong. Any signs of softness were brief and negligible, so the vast majority of the movie depicted razor-precise elements.
Jagged edges and moiré effects appeared absent, and I witnessed no edge haloes. In regard to print flaws, I noticed none, as the movie looked clean and fresh from start to finish.
In terms of palette, blues and reds dominated. Other hues appeared as well, of course, but those overtones became most apparent. The colors appeared vivid and rich, and the 4K UHD’s HDR added impact to them.
Black levels looked solid, while low-light images were concisely displayed and tight, with no excessive opacity. I found little to criticize in this dynamic image.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Aladdin also provided an active Dolby Atmos soundtrack – maybe too active. From start to finish, the back speakers played a strangely dominant role. To be sure, I enjoy movies that make use of the rear channels, but Aladdin tended to go overboard to the point where the surrounds threatened to overwhelm the forward domain.
This meant that dialogue stayed concentrated on the front but music and effects broadened more aggressively. I did hear obvious music and effects in the forward domain, but outside of the dialogue, I thought the track used the back speakers more prominently than the front.
That didn’t make for an especially natural mix. The balance wasn’t badly out of whack, so even with the emphasis on the surrounds, the track created a fairly convincing sense of place. Nonetheless, I felt the forward channels should’ve had more to do, so the mix felt somewhat “off” to me..
Audio quality seemed positive. Speech came across as natural and crisp; a few lines could be a bit edgy, but not many. Music varied somewhat but usually was solid, with clean highs and taut lows.
Effects always sounded accurate and dynamic. Those elements presented good bass response and seemed bright and well defined with no signs of distortion. Overall, this was a pretty positive track, but the lack of balance created some concerns.
How does the 4K UHD compare to the 2019 Blu-ray? Audio seemed fairly similar, as both mixes felt too active.
As for visuals, the 4K UHD offered slightly superior detail and colors. This wasn’t a tremendous upgrade over the Blu-ray, but the format’s superior capabilities made it the more appealing version.
Note that the 2004 DVD’s Dolby 5.1 track offered the most natural soundfield of the lot. Despite its lossy nature, it remains superior to the 7.1 mix on the Blu-rays or the 4K UHD’s Atmos.
No extras appear on the 4K UHD itself, but the included Blu-ray copy provides some materials, and it mixes old and new extras. I’ll mark new materials with asterisks.
We find two separate audio commentaries, and the first presents remarks from producers/directors John Musker and Ron Clements and co-producer Amy Pell, all of whom sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. They get into a nice mix of topics.
We learn about the visual design of the movie and how this represents themes, influences, the characters, their development and casting, the music and the songs, cut sequences and various changes made along the way. They toss in fun stories about working with Robin Williams and also make sure we know what animators did what on the film. The commentary moves at a good pace and provides a winning exploration of the flick.
For the second commentary, we discover remarks from supervising animators Andreas Deja, Will Finn, Eric Goldberg and Glen Keane. All four sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. They cover a mix of subjects related to animation and the general production of the film.
They point out who did what for the art and also talk about influences, inspirations, and character design and development. They also relate notes about changes and cuts. An awful lot of this information already appears in the first commentary, so don’t look here for great insight.
That comes as a disappointment. This track includes four men with a ton of animation experience, and I hoped to hear a lot about their styles, methods and whatnot. Instead I got a pretty general chat with only occasional examples of revealing information.
They devote much of the track to praise and tell us how much they like different parts. While the occasional nugget of value appears, this commentary mainly comes across as redundant after the prior one.
Two *Alterrnate Endings appear. With a total running time of two minutes, five seconds, these are actually the same finale.
They vary in their stage of completion. While neither comes with finished animation, the first offers cruder art and a demo sung by Alan Menken, and the second offers better-drawn cartoons and a vocal from “Peddler” vocalist Bruce Adler.
Whichever flavor you choose, the “Alternate Ending” proves underwhelming. It just adds a wee coda that delivers a less-than-surprising reveal of the Peddler’s identity. It’s cute but insubstantial.
The set also provides Disney’s Song Selection. This basically acts as an alternate form of chapter menu.
“Selection” lets you jump to any of the film’s seven song performances, and it also allows you to show on-screen lyrics. In the same vein, a Sing-Along Version supplies lyrics as you watch the movie.
A section called The Genie Outtakes runs eight minutes, 53 seconds and offers an intro from Clements, Musker and Eric Goldberg. They tell us about Robin Williams’ work in the studio and we then get outtakes from his recording sessions. It becomes a delightful addition that I wish lasted longer.
For a look at a stage show, Aladdin: Creating Broadway Magic goes for 18 minutes, 52 seconds and features Menken, Freeman, Disney Theatrical President Thomas Schumacher, director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw, book writer/lyricist Chad Beguelin, and actors Darren Criss, James Monroe Iglehart, Courtney Reed and Adam Jacobs.
They talk about the development of the stage show and the challenges it faced. Though this occasionally feels like an advertisement, it’s usually fairly interesting.
With Genie 101, we get a four-minute featurette. It comes with comments from Weinger, as he identifies the personalities impersonated by the Genie. Viewers of a certain age will already know these identities, but this can be a useful oveview.
We focus on the directors in the five-minute, 36-second Ron and John: You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me. Clements and Musker discuss their long-time relationship in this witty, fun little chat.
The most substantial new addition, *Aladdin on Aladdin spans 30 minutes, 27 seconds and comes hosted by actor Scott Weinger. He visits various locations with his mom Barbara and also chats with Clements, Menken, original dialogue recordist Doc Kane, actor/Weinger’s movie premiere date Candace Cameron Bure, Weinger’s wife Rina Mimoun, son Misha Wiand actors Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, and Gilbert Gottfried.
“Aladdin” lets Weinger take us on a trip down memory road, as he discusses elements of the production with his co-workers. No one should expect a blunt, hard-hitting overview, but we get some nice observations, and the inclusion of a few Weinger audition tapes add fun material.
With *Let’s Not Be Too Hasty, we locate a two-minute, 58-second clip. Subtitled “The Voices of Aladdin”, we see the actors in the studio paired with final scenes from the movie. It’s short but fun.
The 2019 “Signature Collection” Blu-ray drops a slew of extras from the prior BD and the DVD, but never fear! The 59-second *Classic Bonus Preview reminds us of the omissions and tells us we can find them via streaming/downloads.
Would it really kill Disney to include these extras on discs? Nope, but they do this anyway. Maybe someone in their home video department owns shares in eBay stock and benefits from sales from out-of-print old copies of their movies.
A sensation when it first appeared in 1992, some parts of Aladdin now seem a little creaky. Nonetheless, a stellar performance from Robin Williams helps overcome most of its problems and means that the movie continues to provide a lot of entertainment. The 4K UHD offers excellent visuals with mostly positive – though overly aggressive – audio and a nice set of supplements. Despite some flaws, this ends up as the most satisfying Aladdin to date.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of ALADDIN