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Aladdin (2019) (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Disney’s remake of its 1992 animated film Aladdin is just another in the long line (and still moving down that line) of reimaginations from its vault of fairy tale classics. This year alone has 3 of them and then a sequel to one of their previous efforts still to go. Aladdin was a smashing success, earning over 1 billion dollars at the box office this summer and over $350 million in the US alone. It continued the trend of the critics and general audiences not seeing eye to eye in terms of quality either. Film writers loathe these things, while audiences are just eating them up and loving every second of it. The new Aladdin will be arriving from Disney on the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format alonside its predecessor, the 1992 animated Aladdin, on September 10th.

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Film 

Aladdin is a lovable street urchin who meets Princess Jasmine, the beautiful daughter of the sultan of Agrabah. While visiting her exotic palace, Aladdin stumbles upon a magic oil lamp that unleashes a powerful, wisecracking, larger-than-life genie. As Aladdin and the genie start to become friends, they must soon embark on a dangerous mission to stop the evil sorcerer Jafar from overthrowing young Jasmine’s kingdom.

Guy Ritchie’s updated take on the Disney Aladdin tale is one that bolsters lots of bright lights and flashy colors while also hitting the familiar beats of the animated classic and seeming mildly interested in finding some new avenues. The film isn’t quite the dull retread that Beauty and the Beast was a few years ago, but its not pushing forward with any sort of bold filmmaking. I didn’t hate it, didn’t care for it, just largely indifferent to it.

One of the biggest moves in the film is filling the shoes of Robin Williams as the Genie. Will Smith is an inspired choice, opting for someone with a big presence and personality to put themselves into the role rather than trying to fully ape the pinnacle approach from Williams. Smith is pretty good here and he’s having a lot of fun in the film, being one of its better pieces. Ditto Naomi Scott as Jasmine who could not only quiet a room with her entrance, but bolsters some terrific singing chops and a really charismatic leading presence. The fact that she’s in the new Charlie’s Angels makes me interested in seeing it. And kudos for putting Nasim Pedrad in this movie (Put her in MORE).

While the world of Aladdin is full of myth, wonder, scoundrels, sorcerers, genies and more with some big musical numbers and the like; I can’t help but feel like the film felt really small in scale and stakes. Yet, it feels like it wants you to have it that big and that the world is ending. The drama and action just never exactly really feel that way at all. I don’t know what could have been done, but things just paced maybe a little too quick or only really felt like the entire world was populated by like 4 characters.

As I mentioned, I’m merely a hard indifferent on Aladdin, which just so happens to be the best of the Disney animated to live action jumps this year. Why not just go balls to the wall Bollywood with it like this movie dabbles in doing. Get a legit Bollywood director and go for broke. That’d been something. Instead, Disney wants to play the hits and that they do. While I’m not invested in these, I DO get it and understand the joy of people going to see them. There’s a nostalgia and generational connection between people whether they parents and kids, people dating or just friends with shared childhood interests, seeing these are akin to seeing a tribute version of a classic band in many ways if you’re not the type to care about tech or artistry. That’s not a slam, I’m just saying, I’m happy (Jealous) that you  are enjoying it and understand Disney’s quest to make these.

Video 

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the 4K UHD Movies Anywhere stream, not the 4K UHD disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Aladdin arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray having been shot in 3.4K and 2.8K, but I can’t find whether it was finished with a 4K digital intermediate or a 2K one. Nevertheless, the image here is fantastic and one of the best I’ve seen from Disney on the 4K UHD format. The movie easily lends itself to it with razor sharpness, bold and striking colors and great shadows and natural blacks. Details are quite crisp float through any scenario. Special effects hold up quite well and always feel a part of the live action in any given sequence. This image is a lot of fun to just look out.

Depth:  There is plenty of space here and room for all characters and computer rendered graphics to breathe in a nice 3 dimensional atmosphere. Movements are smooth, cinematic and carry no motion distortions to be found.

Black Levels: Blacks are very natural and impressive with their shadows or providing the cover of darkness. Details prevail through even the darkest corners and assist in accentuating all the popping colors throughout.

Color Reproduction: Colors are absolutely lovely in this image. They pop and burst out all over the screen in the form of fabrics and fireworks and more. For a nice does of quality color saturation and HDR, look no further than the “Never Had A Friend Like Me” sequence.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from star to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are plenty visible from any given camera distance and Will Smith’s CG Genie holds up impressively as looking like a fluid being.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dobly Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, French (Canada) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, Italian 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, German 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, Japanese 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus

Subtitles: English SDH, French, French (Canada), Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese

Dynamics: Aladdin’s Atmos mix is a fun one with a really airy, spacey, free flying track that was expertly mixed for full surround/home theater effect. You will have to turn it up just a couple notches for maximum performance, but its worth it. Look no further than the “Never Had a Friend Like Me” sequence (Just like for the video) to get a real sense of what this track can do. Enjoy as Will Smith’s voice unpredictably bounces and floats all around your viewing space.

Height: There is some fun to be had whether its fireworks, a flying carpet of the Genie’s voice coming from above. While its not abused, I wish they would have gone to town a little more with the ceiling channels.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer presence isn’t astounding, but it does get the job done and then some when set to an appropriate level.

Surround Sound Presentation: As mentioned above, this is quite an entertaining mix to hear play out. Rolling sound and unique environmental contributions are all abound and there is rarely a dull moment.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp to the mouth diction of the characters. Dialogue to singing is a seamless transition in the mix.

Extras 

Aladdin (2019) comes with the Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film. All bonus features are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Aladdin’s Video Journal: A New Fantastic Point of View (HD, 10:39) – A collection of phone videos Mena Massoud took on the set of the film.

Deleted Song “Desert Moon” (HD, 2:20) – Alan Menken introduces the song and then you see the scene in which it was cut.

Guy Ritchie: A Cinematic Genie (HD, 5:28) – Ritchie says he was driven by wanting to make movies his family can see. It includes plenty of behind the scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew about his work and what he brought to the table and how he wanted to “shake things up” and “toss the hand grenade”.

A Friend Like Genie (HD, 4:31) – Will Smith talks how it was “terrifying” to take on the role (Which he considers Robin Williams’ performance one of the greatest animated performances of all time) and wondered if there was any meat left on the bone to add to the role. Smith, Ritchie and fellow cast talk about the genie and what his genie is like.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 10:44) – Some scenes do not have the visual effects completed.

Music Videos (HD, 11:33) – “Speechless” performed by Naomi Scott, “A Whole New World” performed by Zayn and Zhavia Ward, “A Whole New World” (“Un Mundo Ideal”) performed by Zayn and Becky G.

Bloopers (HD, 2:07)

Summary 

Sure, I’m pretty “eh” on Aladdin, moreso indifferent. But, it seems to have brought joy to many so I’m very happy for those people. They should be happy with this 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray as it boasts a beautiful looking image full of radiant colors and beautiful moods to go with a rather fun Atmos track. The extras are a bit generic, but they are solid enough for something willing to gander more from the movie after viewing it. Those who pick this up should be pleased with the purchase.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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