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Aladdin - Blu-ray Review [Region-free UK]

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Aladdin - Blu-ray Review

4 stars

By 1992 the renaissance of Disney’s theatrical animation output was in full swing. The Little Mermaid spear-headed things, Beauty and the Beast continued it, and added the distinction of being the first animated film ever to be nominated for an Oscar (this was before the Academy created the animated movie award). There was even a new Rescuers flick that is not held in the regard of the aforementioned, but did well. The Lion King, which would become the most successful animated movie in Disney’s history at the time, was still a couple of years off; and reassuring the audiences of the 90s that Disney’s quality hand drawn animation was at its zenith was Aladdin.

It also is the Disney movie with more controversies than any other, with allegations of negative stereotyping of Arabic culture and the now infamous falling out between the studio and Robin Williams. Williams was reluctant to do the part of the Genie initially, but agreed in the end to do it for SAG pay (next to nothing, compared to his usual fee), on the condition his name not be used to market the movie (he had another film he was headlining, Toys, coming out around the same time as Aladdin.) Disney back-flipped on their promise and Williams was pissed, never working with the studio again while Jeffrey Katzenberg was the head.

Taken from the ancient 1001 Nights collection (although Aladdin’s tale was added to the tome in the 18th century by French writer Antoine Galland), Disney’s version streamlines the tale to more Americanised young hero’s adventure. Princess Jasmine finds Aladdin on the streets of Agrabah, and they hit it off. But Aladdin is arrested for thievery and imprisoned in the palace dungeon. When Jasmine learns of this she order the nefarious aid to her father, Jafar, to release him, only to be told Aladdin has been executed. It seems Jafar has plans for the ‘street rat’, and tricks Aladdin into retrieving a magic lamp in exchange for a reward. When he attempts to kill Aladdin, the genie is released, at Aladdin’s beck and call. Aladdin tried to woo the princess under the guise of a prince and Jafar tries to gain control of the magic lamp and ultimate power over Agrabah.

This is another solid story construction from Disney, with a strong, easy to follow narrative, a fast and cracking pace, good conflict, and a satisfying if rather clichéd ending. The dialogue is snappy (and very American for an Arabic tale) and enjoyable, the Genie —a predominately ad-libbed role by Robin Williams—being the highlight. There are some dialogue changes in both a song and a scene from the theatrical release, due to accusations of racial impropriety and a line rather sexually suggestive (plenty of info out there showing the changes online, so I won’t go into it here.)

Characterization is more hit and miss. Arguably, Aladdin has one of the best collections of supporting characters in any Disney film, but the main two roles of Aladdin and Jasmine are fairly bland and clichéd. There is more relatable personality from the magic carpet, the monkey, or the genie than in those two. They’re not unlikable, not by any stretch, but without their supporting cast it would be a fairly middle of road and vanilla offering. Jafar is a strong villain, and his to and fro with Iago, his mouthy parrot, is another strong element throughout the movie.

Animation, like the previous few entries, had the kitchen sink thrown at it, incorporating hand drawn techniques with the slightest smidgens of CGI. This is a top drawer, high quality production.

Aladdin is, along with three other Disney movies from that era, regarded as the icing on Disney’s hand drawn animation cake. After Lion King, things began to wane, and only a few years later Toy Story changed theatrical animation output forever. This film, largely thanks to Williams and the supporting cast, is a fun one, and indelibly so. It has the right mix to entertain kids and adults alike, is beautifully crafted, and deserving of its reputation, both good and bad. Not one to be missed for the Disney enthusiast or an eager kid on a Sunday afternoon.

Aladdin - Blu-ray ReviewClassification: U.
Runtime:
90 mins
Director
: Ron Clements, John Musker
Writer
: Ron Clements, John Musker
Cast: Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin
Genre: Animation | Adventure | Comedy
Tagline: Wish granted!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Three wishes, to be exact. And ixnay on the wishing for more wishes. That's all. Three. Uno, dos, tres. No substitutions, exchanges, or refunds."
Distributor:
Buena Vista Pictures
Official Site:
http://movies.disney.com/watch-at-home
Release Date: November 25 1992
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 15, 2013

Synopsis: Aladdin, a street urchin, accidentally meets Princess Jasmine, who is in the city undercover. They love each other, but she can only marry a prince.

 

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