Walt Disney's Aladdin (1992) remains one of the best from the studio's Renaissance era and largely thanks to Robin Willaims's marvelously memorable performance. The animated classic flies to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a gorgeous HDR10 presentation, a highly-satisfying Dolby Atmos mix, and the same set of bonus materials. Highly Recommended.
Along with The Lion King (1994) and Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992) is one of my personal favorites from the Disney Renaissance era. I still remember seeing the animated classic at the Cinedome Theaters, a cinema complex that is exactly as it sounds. Enjoying films projected on massive dome-like screens made action scenes, like Aladdin's escape from the Cave of Wonders on the magic carpet, all the more visually immersive and spectacularly engrossing. Later, when Robin Williams' Genie poofs from the magic lamp, the "Friend Like Me" sequence became an enchanting, hypnotizing feast for the eyes. But fond memories aside, the colorfully charming retelling of the well-known Arabic folktale remains just as terrifically compelling nearly thirty years later, a big part of which is due to Williams in one of the comedian's absolute best and most memorable performances ever. Jafar is also one of Disney's best, delightfully wicked villains, wonderfully matched by the spirited, strong and progressive Princess Jasmine paving the way for a whole new world.
For a more in-depth take on the film, check out Aaron Peck's review of the 2015 Diamond Edition Blu-ray HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment brings Aladdin (1992) to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for a Disney Digital Copy. When redeeming said code via RedeemDigitalMovie.com or MoviesAnywhere, users should have access to the 4K digital version in HDR10 with Dolby Atmos on some streaming platforms, and this might change on the official release day. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc, which is identical to the 2015 Diamond Edition Blu-ray release. Both are housed inside a black, eco-vortex case with a glossy slipcover. At startup, viewers are taken to a static screen where owners can choose between the start of the movie or look through the menu.
The Disney animated classic takes fans on a magic carpet ride thanks to an enchantingly gorgeous HEVC H.265 encode, showing us several new sights and wonders that soar above its Blu-ray predecessor. Coming from a 2K digital intermediate, the upscaled transfer takes to the sky with sharper, more distinct lines in the hand-drawn animation of the clothing, the faces of characters, Abu's rough hairs and Iago's feathers. Viewers can better make out the small imperfections of Agrabah's buildings and streets, and the elaborate design of the palace's architecture and the patterns on the magic carpet are incredibly detailed. The most impressive moments are the individual coins, jewels and various other treasures strewn throughout the Cave of Wonders while the walls and floors of the Sultan's throne room look almost like real marble.
The 4K presentation also charms the screen with strikingly improved contrast and brightness balance, displaying intensely vivid and dazzlingly clean whites. In fact, the movie is simply brighter overall and looks as though fresh off the Disney animation assembly line, enjoying a tighter, more resplendent glow in the specular highlights. The jewelry worn by characters comes with an attractive shine and polish while the treasures decorating the Cave of Wonders sparkle with a flash of radiant, glistening brilliance. Black levels are notably inkier and truer, supplying the clothes and hairs with a raven silkiness and gloss. Shadows, likewise, are velvety dark with excellent delineation in the murkiest corners, providing the 1.66:1 aspect ratio with a lovely cinematic quality and an appreciable three-dimensional feel.
By far, the biggest and most dramatic upgrade of this magical Arabian adventure is the spectacularly colorful palette with the secondary hues, in particular, enjoying a significant boost. With a story set in the desert, the HDR10 presentation is continuously bathed in vibrant golden shades, glowing marigold yellows, and dynamic tiger oranges, and once again, the Cave of Wonders delivers some demo-worthy goodness. Even more stunning is the sumptuous array of spirited pinks and flamboyant purples in some of the clothing, the most random objects and especially, the gorgeous sunset skies of Agrabah. Equally captivating is the energetic variety of blues, teals, and greens while reds are far richer and more animated than in its HD SDR counterpart. Occasionally, a tinge of negligible banding is perceptible, but otherwise, this Ultra HD is a fantastic improvement over the Blu-ray. (HDR10 Video Rating: 94/100)
The musical fantasy film also casts a spell on home theaters with a terrifically satisfying Dolby Atmos that while not as a dramatic improvement over its DTS-HD MA predecessor as the video, a few noteworthy enhancements nonetheless make this a splendid win.
To be fair, the original sound design has always been a front-heavy presentation, and this object-based track, for the most part, doesn't stray too far from those intentions. Occasionally, sound effects travel into the surrounds and ceiling, but their periodic use is ultimately lackluster and fail to ever establish a wholly immersive soundfield. However, the real win and joy here is the more impressive utilization of the entire soundstage, as various atmospherics fluidly and convincingly move between the front channels and into the off-screen space, generating a highly-engaging half-dome soundscape from beginning to end. Aside from the climactic showdown with sorcerer Jafar, one of the best moments is when the Sultan rides the magic carpet, flawlessly panning into the top heights as though actually gliding through the room.
Of course, one of the most memorable aspects of this production is the music, and this spatial-audio mix truly delivers in that respect. Imaging is spectacularly broad with the score and songs evenly bleeding across the entire screen and the top heights, exhibiting extraordinary warmth and distinction while maintaining detailed clarity in the mid-range. The vocals and singing are always precise and crystal-clear, revealing excellent intonation in the performances, especially the incomparable Robin Williams. The low-end is nothing particularly standout or noteworthy, but bass is adequate and responsive for providing appreciable weight and presence to the music and action. (Dolby Atmos Audio Rating: 88/100)
The same set of bonuses ported over and joined by four more new supplements, but they're only available on the accompanying Blu-ray disc.
Nearly thirty years later, Disney's Aladdin remains a terrifically compelling and colorfully charming retelling of the well-known Arabic folktale, buoyed by the memorable performance of Robin Willaims and marvelous animation that's just as captivating as ever. The animated classic flies to Ultra HD with a beautifully magical 4K HDR10 presentation and a highly-satisfying Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Porting over the same set of supplements, the UHD package comes highly recommended for those hungering for more HDR goodness.