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Aladdin Special Edition

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-- Video Business, 11/15/2004


Two discs, G, 90 min. plus supplements, Dolby Digital 5.1, widescreen, Street: Oct. 5, $29.99; First Run: W, 1992, $217 mil.


Aladdin fans will have all of their wishes granted with this Platinum Edition release of this contemporary Disney classic. The two-disc set not only has enough special features to fill King Solomon's mine, but the fully restored and remastered sound and picture is absolutely brilliant. Buena Vista's new "Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix" is demonstrated quite effectively here. The mix seems to take the regular 5.1 sound but use the right, left and rear speakers with a bit more gusto to create a more encompassing surround effect. The result is actually more effective than the standard 5.1 mix (which is also an option for those who dislike this Disney-fied version). In two audio commentaries, we hear from animators Andreas Deja, Will Finn, Eric Goldberg and Glen Keane and filmmakers John Musker, Ron Clements and Amy Pell. Both tracks are adequate and interesting in their own right. Strangely, on our player, the menu selection for both the commentaries and a trivia pop-up, which occasionally shows interesting facts about making the film, are reversed. When you select "On" they are off, and when "Off" is selected, they are on. Viewers who experience this will probably be a bit frustrated until they figure it out, as we did. To round out disc one, there are new music videos with Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, who perform "A Whole New World," and Clay Aiken with "Proud of Your Boy," an Alan Menken song that was excised from Aladdin prior to its theatrical run. Disc two contains almost two hours of making-of footage and a reunion of the filmmakers and animators, hosted by Leonard Maltin at Disney's California Adventure theme park. The footage includes rough early sketches, recording sessions, character design and a look back on "Black Friday," when the studio nearly put the genie back in the lamp after an early screening fell flat with Disney execs. (Filmmakers had to completely restructure the story in little more than a week in order to breathe life back into the project.) The only features that were a bit of a disappointment were the deleted scenes and additional songs. The scenes are there, yes, but the animation is not. Sketched storyboards and simple animatics play while the characters speak the lines. Although they are entertaining, we were expecting actual animated deleted scenes. Also included in the package are interactive games, such as a virtual ride on the magic carpet, and an excellent look inside the genie's lamp with your tour guide Robin Leach. With all of these features and a great movie, this set rubs us the right way. --Jamie Clark

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