Monday, September 16, 2019

Aladdin (2019) 4K Ultra HD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Disney's "Aladdin," the thrilling and vibrant live-action adaptation of the studio's animated classic, is now available on Digital in HD, 4K Ultra HD and Movies Anywhere. Fans of all ages will enjoy the exciting, humorous tale of the lovable “street rat,”Aladdin (Mena Massoud), courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) and the larger-than-life Genie (Will Smith) with all-new bonus features.

Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Young Aladdin is a street rat.  He lost both parents when he was young and so he raised himself and his monkey Abu on the rough streets of Agrabah where they are forced to steal to eat. He meets a young lady, whom he will later learn in the Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) in disguise. The law states that Princess Jasmine, daughter of the Sultan, must marry a Prince. 

After finding a magic lamp in the Cave of Wonders, Aladdin meets a Genie who can help. Aladdin rubs the lamp and is granted three wishes.  With one of those wishes he makes himself a Prince, with the hopes of winning the hand of Princess Jasmine.  Because the Genie cannot make someone fall in love, Aladdin must lie his way into the palace to win the heart of the Princess.

Fans of the animated Aladdin should be pleased overall. The film has a grand scale that you don’t feel in the animated version. The actors who play Aladdin and Jasmine are both well cast, with beautiful signing voices to support the old iconic songs and a few new ones as well. Arguably, the Genie is the most icon and beloved character from the film. Played by the late Robin Williams in the animated film, many people questioned the choice to put Will Smith in the role of the Genie. Smith’s Genie is as personable and entertaining as Will Smith himself. His Genie has a very lovable quality mixed with a swagger that I didn’t expect. It was a smart choice not to copy Robin Williams but instead pay homage to him.
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Aladdin’s Blu-ray looks good but the 4K UHD version looks great. With 4K you can truly appreciate the dark nighttime desert and the unlit Cave of Wonders.  The UHD film truly shines when you stop to look at the bold colors and beautiful textures of the regal garments and the details of the palace. The jewels shine brighter in 2160p and skin imperfections are more discernable than they are in 1080p. The red hot lava and dirt flying through the air is just a tad more realistic in the 4K version of the film.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Aladdin is a musical and Alan Menken’s songs are truly “belted out” by the actors. The Blu-ray features a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is improved upon with the 4K Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The Genie’s commandments and swirling magic tornadoes are best appreciated on 4K. The audio is more robust and multi-dimensional than I had expected.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
As expected, Disney has provided a well-planned list of supplemental features. I had hoped for a few more items. There are no 4K extras.  The items below are found on the Blu-ray disc.
  • Aladdin’s Video Journal: A New Fantastic Point of View (10:40) – Actor Mena Massoud documented his experience making the film with behind the scenes footage and impromptu interviews.
  • Deleted Song – “Desert Moon” (2:20) - Composer Alan Menken introduces the song cut from the film.
  • Guy Ritchie: A Cinematic Genie (5:29) – Director Guy Ritchie and his creative ways of shooting. Cast and crew discuss the unique experience and his process.
  • A Friend Like Genie (4:32) – Will Smith discusses Robin Williams’ genie and his own take on the character.
  • Deleted Scenes (10:45 total runtime) Available with play all function or individually:
    • Falling petals into OJ
    • Jafar’s magic orrery
    • Anders’ gift
    • Wrong wishes
    • Silly old fool
    • Post yam jam debrief
  • Music Videos (11:34 total runtime ) – With play all function or individual selection” 
    • “Speechless” performed by Naomi Scott
    • “A Whole New World” performed by Zayn and Shavia Ward
    • “A Whole New World” (“Un Mundo Ideal”) performed by Zayn and Becky G.
  • Bloopers (2:07) – Laughs and fun on set with prop fails, coordination issues and more.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Aladdin works better than I’d expected in “real life”. Director Guy Ritchie’s production value is off the charts.  He also managed to believably incorporate some very magical elements into the film. The live action Aladdin is at the same time similar to the animated version and very different. One does not take the place of another but they are good compliments to each other. Recommended.

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