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Friday, December 4, 2015

'Aladdin' Diamond Edition: Whole New World of Awesomeness

Product Details
The best news about the Disney October 2015 Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD release of the 1992 animated classic "Aladdin" is that the off-the-charts awesomeness of the film extends well beyond the comic genius of the late Robin Williams in his voice-over role as the genie.

The strongest endorsement is your (occasionally) humble reviewer laughing out loud in a few spots that do not even feature the genie. Even truly hilarious films and shows almost always only elicit a smile. After all, Vulcans do not dance even when fun commences.

A very incomplete list of said non-genie scenes include Abu the monkey (voiced by "Scooby-Doo" god Frank Welker) distracting a fruit merchant while the titular street rat steals an apple, the magic carpet behaving like a rambunctious puppy, and Princess Jasmine acting like a delusional flake to avoid trouble. Of course, Williams more than delivers.

The two Oscars and 23 other awards for "Aladdin" provide additional validation of the special nature of the film.

Further, buying this one in Blu-ray truly is a necessity. It arguably has the most vivid and elaborate animation of any film since the '30s and '40s glory days of Disney. Further, the sound effects and the spectacular Tim Rice soundtrack are wonderful in the enhanced Blu-ray audio format.

The following YouTube clip of the trailer for the Diamond Edition provides a decent sense of the supercalifragilisric quality that truly must be seen to be believed.

Like all extraordinary Disney films, "Aladdin" borrows from great source material beyond the myth that provides its overall structure. In this case, the past and future homages work wonderfully well.

Disney pays exceptional tribute to the original "Indiana Jones" trilogy in having evil palace advisor Jafar essentially using a "Snow White" style mirror to find the purest in the land who is sufficiently noble to enter the Cave of Wonders (also voiced by Welker) to purloin the magic lamp that is the abode of the aforementioned genie. This puts Aladdin on the radar of this Dick Cheney of yore.

The following images allow you to judge the above comparison for yourself.

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Aladdin entering the cave elicits some sense of Indy. An act of greed while in there triggering a colossal booby trap shows that we clearly are in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" territory, complete with a "you throw me whip; I throw you idol" moment.

This plot roughly coincides with the aforementioned heiress to the throne scaling the walls of the aforementioned palace for the dual purposes of discovering "a whole new world" and avoiding the fate of marrying a prince before an impending deadline. This great escape leads to Jasmine meeting soulmate Aladdin. The latter being a 10 in both appearance and personality make her highness the envy of most female (and a large number of male) viewers. Our boy form the 'hood easily leaves every Disney princess in the dust.

The elaborate magic of the genie and elaborate magic-infused confrontations are clear nods to the classic Disney film "Fantasia." Further, Aladdin fighting/eluding a serpentine Jafar in treasure room loaded with mountains of old evokes great thoughts of "The Desolation of Smaug" in the "Hobbit" trilogy.

The movie having a clever twist near the end and the appealing leads having a well-earned happy ending are additional nice features of the film. It is further worth mentioning that the mercifully limited screen time of the so detestable that he is not even funny Gilbert Gottfried in his voice-over role as Iago the parrot alleviates concerns regarding having to tolerate his performance.

The Blu-ray extras alone make the Diamond Edition a good buy. A behind-the-scenes look at the staging of the "Aladdin" Broadway musical has all the heart and humor of the film. Insight regarding the technical difficulties associated with creating the flying carpet is one of the more interesting elements of this short; the bittersweet story behind adding the song "Proud of Your Boy" song that was cut from the film was a highlight. (A special feature on deleted songs includes an at least partial version of this emotion-stirring tune.)

The following YouTube clip of "Boy" features the Broadway Aladdin.

An even more emotional short is a tribute to Williams; the rapid-fire clips of deleted riffs and rejected versions of included bits is as hilarious as expected. The expressed sadness in this film for the passing of Williams is both genuine and gets eyes leaking almost as much as when writing an Unreal TV ode to Williams in August 2014.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Aladdin" is strongly encouraged to either email or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

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