Disney's 1992 animated feature is a triumph of wit and skill. The high-tech artwork and graphics look great, the characters are strong, the familiar story is nicely augmented with an interesting villain (Jafar, voiced by Jonathan Freeman), and there's an incredible hook atop the whole thing: Robin Williams's frantically hilarious vocal performance as Aladdin's genie. Even if one isn't particularly moved by the love story between the title character (Scott Weinger) and his girlfriend Jasmine (Linda Larkin), you can easily get lost in Williams's improvisational energy and the equally entertaining performances of Freeman and Gilbert Gottfried (as Jafar's parrot). --Tom Keogh
First off, the presentation is a knockout. Restored and cleaned up for the DVD release, the 1992 film looks grand, with the strong color scheme brought to a new level of vitality. The "Disney Enhanced" 5.1 sound is a bit warmer and robust than the standard 5.1 Dolby sound (also included). Disney has honed its ability to present a vast amount of information smoothly. "A Diamond in the Rough," the two-hour documentary, can be viewed three ways: via an index (with the duration of each segment nicely noted), an interactive menu, or a simple one-click "play all" mode. Add the information from the two new commentary tracks (one by the directors and producers, the other--much more amusing--by four character animators), and you can digest that even though Beauty and the Beast
may have been more prestigious, Aladdin
was much more challenging and fun to animate. A town hall-type retrospective brings together many of the talents to reminisce but, alas, Robin Williams's lack of participation in the DVD is evident (he does appear--in rare form--in the vintage recording-session footage). In a nice change from the usual Disney sheen, the original story that was radically changed is discussed and deleted scenes are shown.
Another spotlight is on the music with four deleted songs on display with their rough animation (which was also deleted). One song, "Proud of Your Boy," receives an orchestral version with none other than Clay Aiken crooning the tune. For the kids, the games are quite lame, but a must-see--on the biggest screen possible--is the Magic Carpet Adventure. Like The Lion King DVD's "Virtual Safari," viewers race through the settings of the movie as if we are on a theme-park ride--without the motion. The adults will want to view it and might be needed to solve the puzzle via some quick inputting from the DVD remote. --Doug Thomas