Aladdin (1992) 4K Blu-ray Review
By Chris Heinonen on
Aladdin is homeless and living in Agrabah. He and his monkey Apu have to steal to survive on the streets. The Princess of the city, Jasmine, is due to be married off before her next birthday but hates having no choice in the matter and rejects every suitor that her father, the Sultan, presents her. Jafar, the royal vizier of Agrabah, is seeking a magical lamp from the cave of wonders that will grant the owner three wishes, but is unable to enter the cave himself and needs to find the one person that can enter, who happens to be Aladdin.
Aladdin Movie Review
Having not seen Aladdin in a couple of decades, I was worried how it would age given that things have changed in 27 years. Thankfully it holds up well and provides a story that is enjoyable and with decent lessons for the family. Aladdin is a thief at the start of the film and an unrepentant one at that, but he also gives his food away to help others who are worse off than him. He also learns that he succeeds by being himself and not pretending to be someone else, even if he isn’t a prince. Princess Jasmine is set to be married off but shows herself to be independent, strong in her beliefs, and capable of making her own decisions. Even her father realizes this in the end and changes the law to allow her to make her own choices instead of being constrained by what others have done before him.
I also hadn’t seen this since the passing of Robin Williams and he is great here, just as I remembered. Many of his impressions in the film are going to be beyond what kids would recognize, and even some adults (Ed Sullivan?), but are still fun to watch.
Aladdin Technical Review
Aladdin is animated and was produced on the Disney CAPS system, their custom system to pair hand-drawn animation with the ability to do color, shading, and other effects on the computer. This release apparently goes back to the original CAPS files, which are 2048 pixels in resolution and a native 1.60:1 aspect ratio. Some will likely take issue with the film being shown at a non-theatrical aspect ratio, but it should be adding data instead of removing data (I didn’t watch the entire films side-by-side to compare).
Overall the image with Aladdin is fantastic. There are bold, rich colors throughout and some very good shadow details. Most of the art is very sharp and detailed, though some images are not as crisp and clear as others. For example, at 36:40 the lines for Aladdin is not as clean and crisp as the rest of the artwork, but it looks more like they didn’t do digital cleanup to the original here. Looking at the scene at 45:14 where the genie is throwing out playing cards, you can see clear edge enhancement around the cards and other lines in the image itself. This scene has been an issue with prior releases of the film, so I wonder if this artifact is there in the CAPS files as well, or if it’s just an artifact they overlooked? From a normal viewing distance, this isn’t as noticeable, but it is there.
There isn’t excessive use of HDR, though some fireworks and other highlights use it to be a bit bolder than before. Overall the image in Aladdin is as good as it can probably get, though some will have issues with the aspect ratio, and the resolution is limited to 2048 pixels because of the original files. Disney also didn’t include any MaxCLL or MaxFALL metadata on the disc, so displays that rely on that won’t have it available. It also says the mastering monitor is 1000 nits brightness with a 0.002 nit black level, which isn’t a value I’ve ever seen before but might mean it was mastered on the recent Sony BVM-HX310.
The audio here has been given an upgrade to Dolby Atmos and for the most part is very good, though not reference class. The use of the height channels for immersion is not as extensive as with some other titles but comes into play at certain times. During the cave escape scene at 32:00 the Atmos channels are used, and there is some good use of HDR and WCG for the lava. However, during the A Whole New World scene, the surrounds and Atmos channels are used extensively but the singing can get drowned out by the rest of the audio and the levels might not be ideal.
Aladdin never looked or sounded better than this at home, but it’s not perfect. It is very good, and better than The Little Mermaid which is the last Disney 4K catalog title I looked at. Since it is also a good film it is one that can be worth picking up.
Aladdin Special Features
- NEW Sing Along With The Movie – Sing along to your favorite tunes as you watch the film. With magical on-screen lyrics.
- NEW Aladdin on Aladdin – Join the speaking voice of Aladdin, Scott Weinger (“Fuller House”), as he reflects on almost 30 years of being Aladdin.
- NEW “Let’s Not Be Too Hasty”: The Voices of “Aladdin” – Take your seat in the recording booth and watch as the voice actors of “Aladdin” work their microphone magic.
- NEW Alternate Endings – Enter the realm of “what if” and see just how differently the movie could have ended.
- Drawing Genie – Join prolific animator Eric Goldberg as he draws and reminices about the Genie. (DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE)
- CLASSIC BONUS – Revisit over 40 exciting bonus features from previous releases including:
- The Genie Outtakes
- “Aladdin”: Creating Broadway Magic
- Unboxing “Aladdin”
Aladdin Review System
Sony A8G OLED, Panasonic UB820 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver, Power Sound Audio Subwoofer.
Story holds up over time, image and audio have never looked better than the do here.
Some people won't like the use of the 1.60 aspect ratio over the theatrical 1.85, Atmos track isn't as involving as it could be and vocals get drowned out on one occasion, resolution limited by original sources.
Aladdin is a classic film that holds up well, even after 27 years. The image looks better than it ever has, despite some small artifacts and the lack of higher resolution for the source. I wish the soundtrack was a little more involving, but overall this is as good as the movie has looked or sounded at home and is unlikely to ever get better.