Aladdin Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Aladdin, from Disney Home Entertainment, the live action adaptation of the classic animated film about a kind-hearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier that vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

90

Details:

Studio and Year: Disney – 2019
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 128 minutes
Genre: Family

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English/Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, 1080p Blu-ray: DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Music by: Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
Written by: John August, Guy Ritchie
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: September 10, 2019

“The Magic Comes to Life”

Synopsis:

“A kind-hearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true. “ – Disney Home Entertainment

My Take:

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.

The original animated classic “Aladdin” is a favorite in our house. Having just recently reviewed its 4K Ultra HD release I looked forward to seeing what this live action reimaging was going to bring to the table. Like its predecessor Aladdin is solid family entertainment that captures the spirit of adventure, heartwarming tone and in this case a superbly crafted CGI world that brings the characters and their surroundings to life like never before.

With that said, I didn’t find that this telling made for a wholly gratifying film when compared to the original. The shifting of the sequence of events didn’t help, nor did the bloated runtime. The additional song/lyrics was fine but, truthfully, added nothing of substance to the story. Aladdin is a tough film to successfully bring to life, especially when it comes to its iconic characters, namely Jafar, his parrot, Iago, Rajah the tiger, and of course the Genie. Robin Williams’ performance in this film is such a big part of what makes it tick and, while I really felt that Will Smith did a terrific job, there was simply something missing.

Jafar wasn’t nearly sinister enough both in appearance or as written, plus I didn’t care for the changes to the original storyline when it came to some of the elements concerning him. I really missed Iago’s part in the story, which to me was part and parcel to Jafars. Here there wasn’t enough of his quips, complaints and assistance in helping Jafar’s diabolical plan come to fruition. Lastly, and to a lesser degree, I felt that Rajah’s CGI portrayal lacked the “humanness” of the animated version. The addition of a handmaiden for Jasmine as well as her interplay with the Genie seemed totally unnecessary and served as a distraction.

I enjoyed the classic musical numbers, most notably “Prince Ali” and “A friend like me” both of which were nailed by Will Smith. “A Whole New World” was okay but, Mena Massoud isn’t much of a singer. So, while Aladdin may not live up to the splendor of the original, there is something to be found in the nostalgic familiarity of its characters, sing-along music and excellent production elements.

The release of the live-action adventure coincides with the addition of the original animated classic to the highly celebrated Walt Disney Signature Collection — granting “Aladdin” fans everywhere the opportunity to own both magical movies.

Extras explore elements of “Aladdin” that audiences adore, from the film’s treasured, iconic award-winning music to its beloved characters and their hilarious antics on and off screen. Viewers get the first look at an all-new song “Desert Moon,” deleted from the final film, written by eight-time Academy Award® winning composer Alan Menken and Oscar®-and Tony Award®-winning songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“The Greatest Showman,” “La La Land”). Features document Guy Ritchie’s joyful, easy-going approach to directing that led to movie magic; Will Smith’s fresh take on the infamous shape-shifting blue entity confined to an oil lamp; Naomi Scott’s powerful performance as the spirited princess who yearns to lead the people of Agrabah; and the indescribable feeling of playing Aladdin chronicled personally by Mena Massoud. Deleted scenes and a blooper reel round out the fun.

In addition, early owners of “Aladdin” gain access to exclusive bonus features. Fans who pre-purchase will receive a feature showcasing the making of the massive musical number “Prince Ali,” and those who bring home the film first on Digital will secure an exclusive extra detailing the creation of Jasmine’s new song “Speechless.”

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for some action/peril.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

[b][list]

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

Aladdin comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Disney Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD, Aladdin was rendered from digital sources and finished on a 2K DI. The film was shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind and that comes through in both its 1080p and Ultra HD presentations. This is a fantasy-based film that is essentially boldly colorful throughout, and this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements. The palate of sepia tones and variants of blue/red benefited from UHD’s wider color gamut, appearing noticeably warmer and pleasing to the eye.

With a discernible increase in detail and emboldened chromatic highlights the image appears sharper and vibrant when compared to the 1080p version. The film has a variety of sequences that make use of close up camera angles that show off the rendering of detail. The interior sets and CGI featured in the film have appreciable depth and, at times, an enriching, and eye-catching aesthetic.

I also enjoyed the implementation of HDR. The added dimension in blacks, and shadows during the low-level scenes is immediately noticeable. Where called for the cinematography makes use of shadows, streaming light and a mix of light/dark elements. It’s application here is used very well, drawing upon HDR’s ability to create stark contrast between the two. Chapter 7’s “A Friend Like Me” is the star of the show featuring rich variants of color and sparkling specular highlights.

The difference between viewing Aladdin in high definition and Ultra HD isn’t night and day but, there is no question that it benefitted from the increase in resolution, emboldened color and high dynamic range treatment.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that makes steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix of atmospherics and discrete sound effects. This is done very well and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. The mix effectively places effects/sounds within the soundstage which place you within the scene, in turn, adding an enriching element that heightens the intended feeling like something is falling from above, moving through the room, or emanating from a specific location. While this is not what I would regard as an aggressive Atmos mix, it is an active one, that complimented the source material and made for an entertaining listening experience.

NOTE: I did find that a minor increase in volume, approximately 4db, was required to derive the most from it. Once there, it kicked nicely with no signs of dynamic compression or anemic bass.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Aladdin comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound.

Colors are effectively used in this film to help set the tone based upon the mood of the scene. The chroma range is broad and hues can vary from being sullen and inanimate to warm and inviting. Skin tones are beautifully rendered with natural highlights and descriptive variation. Images onscreen are exquisitely detailed and sharp with superb depth of field and visible texture during wide angle shots. Contrast is spot on and blacks are deep with revealing delineation that provides excellent perceptibility during scenes shot at night or in lower lighting. The video has a pristine quality that is free of video related artifacts.

The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD (Atmos core – UHD version) and the DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio soundtrack (on the Blu-ray) makes effective use of the surround platform and offers detail rich sonic clarity, and crystalline dialog reproduction. This mix doesn’t bombard you with aggressive surround sound. It applies it when appropriate and combines discretely placed directional cues with supporting ambience that fills the listening area nicely. The front and rear sound field never collide but work in unison to render the soundtrack’s elements. Dynamic range and bass response is appropriate, adding thematic emphasis and resonating punch when called upon. This is a solid audio presentation that mates well with the source material.

NOTE: I did find that a minor increase in volume, approximately 4db, was required to derive the most from it. Once there, it kicked nicely with no signs of dynamic compression or anemic bass.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Aladdin Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Aladdin Blu-ray
    DIGITAL PRESELL BONUS:
    • MAKE WAY FOR PRINCE ALI – Take a look at the gigantic design extravaganza that came together for this scene of Genie-sized proportions.

    DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE BONUS:
    • “SPEECHLESS”: CREATING A NEW SONG FOR JASMINE – Follow the story of Jasmine’s inspirational song “Speechless,” written by Alan Menken, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul especially for this version of “Aladdin.”

    BLU-RAY & DIGITAL BONUS:
    • ALADDIN’S VIDEO JOURNAL: A NEW FANTASTIC POINT OF VIEW – Watch behind-the-scenes moments captured by Mena Massoud (Aladdin) in this fun, fast-paced look at his personal journey.
    • DELETED SONG – “DESERT MOON” – Experience a moving duet performed by Jasmine and Aladdin, fully shot and edited, with an introduction by Alan Menken.
    • GUY RITCHIE: A CINEMATIC GENIE – Discover why director Guy Ritchie was the perfect filmmaker to tackle this exhilarating reimagining of a beloved classic.
    • A FRIEND LIKE GENIE – Discover how Will Smith brings talent, experience and his own personal magic to the iconic role of Genie.
    • DELETED SCENES
    o Falling Petals Into OJ
    o Jafar’s Magic Orrery
    o Anders’ Gift
    o Wrong Wishes
    o Silly Old Fool
    o Post Yam Jam Debrief
    • BLOOPERS – Laugh along with the cast and crew in this lighthearted collection of outtakes from the set.
    • MUSIC VIDEOS
    o “Speechless” – Music video performed by Naomi Scott
    o “A Whole New World” – Music video performed by ZAYN and Zhavia Ward
    o “ A Whole New World” (“Un Mundo Ideal”) – Music video performed by ZAYN and Becky G.

  • Digital Code

Final Thoughts:

Aladdin is a live-action adventure inspired by Disney’s classic 1992 animated film. Its reimaged story doesn’t have the appeal and heartwarming essence of the original which combined with a few questionable narrative changes, relegates it to the fair but, unremarkable category. It comes to Blu-ray in the Ultra HD Combo Pack from Disney featuring excellent Ultra HD video, engaging lossless surround sound, including a solid Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience and a fair supplemental package. Aladdin is a film that is sure to please the kiddies but, leaves their parents hankering to watch the original Disney classic.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems