Aladdin: Walt Disney Signature Collection 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 249, April/May 2020

WSR Score4.5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
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John Musker & Ron Clements
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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"Aladdin," the animated classic is the 10th title to join the Walt Disney Signature Collection. This is the tale of the lovable "street rat," Aladdin, self-determined Princess Jasmine and the all-powerful Genie. The "street rat" (Weinger) frees a genie (Williams) from a lamp, granting all of his wishes and transforming himself into a charming prince in order to marry the beautiful princess, Jasmine (Larkin). But soon, an evil sorcerer (Freeman) becomes hell-bent on securing the lamp for his own sinister purposes. (Gary Reber)

Special feature include four new featurettes: "Sing Along With The Movie," "Aladdin On Aladdin," "'Let's Not Be Too Hasty: The Voices Of Aladdin," and "Alternate Endings"; three classic featurettes: "The Genie Outtakes," "Aladdin: Creating Broadway Magic," and "Unboxing Aladdin"; and a Movies Anywhere digital code.

The 1.85:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10 picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was digitally animated and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been upconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. The picture is a gorgeously animated presentation with a classic flow to the line drawings. Newly mastered, this is the new reference, bettering the picture quality of both the new companion release Signature Blu-ray and the elder Diamond Edition. An obvious difference is that the 4K Ultra HD, and its Signature counterpart, are now framed at 1.66:1, placing vertical "black bars" on either side of the 1.78:1 display and retaining the intended theatrical exhibition ratio. Line drawings are crisp and sharp, resulting in superior clarity and textured refinements. Colors are beautifully rich and vibrant, often with striking primaries. Blacks are solid and deep. HDR contrast exhibits good dynamics with deep blacks and non-exaggerated white levels. Night and low-light scenes are densely resolved. Resolution is superb in all respects such as backgrounds and the frontal line art. At times, the animation exhibits subtle texture, but overall the color shadings are solid. The thread patterns on the magic flying carpet, the Agrabah palace, and the Cave of Wonders are finely detailed throughout. WOW! segments are from 04:35 to 06:05, 19:40 to 20:27, 35:31 to 36:29, 49:57 to 1:32, 57:52 to 01:00:42, 01:12:07 to 1:13:58 and 01:19:51 to 01:21:43. This is the definitive animated Aladdin, beautifully presented. Fans will be thrilled! (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack features a wonderfully active orchestral score with singing, which delivers a wide frontal stretch and impressive surround integration. Surround activity is at times directional. The music, often exotic sounding with enchanting instrumentation, extends aggressively to the four surrounds and the height layer for a fully enveloping holosonic® spherical surround experience. The songs and singing are thrilling in their full-dimensional spatial presentation. Dynamics are excellent with deep bass foundations and accentuated sound effects. Sound effects are also prominent throughout to energize the action. Dynamics are excellent. Bass is robust and at times thunderous, as when Jafar follows a trail and encounters the Cave of Wonders rising from the sand. Atmospherics also enhance the Agrabah palace interiors, the desert sandscape, and the chaos in the bazaar. Of course, as an animated presentation, ADR intelligible dialogue is necessary, and the soundtrack does not disappoint.

The Immersive Sound Element is mainly comprised of an extension of the orchestral score (not the singing) to the height layer. Occasional sound effects, such as the voice of the Cave of Wonders, men's voices as they chase Aladdin, subtle waterfall sounds, the sorcerer's and parrot voices, voices in the bazaar, an electrical buzz, two seconds of thunder, Aladdin's voice in the prison, rocks falling, lava bubbling, low-keyed explosions, the genie's voice in the Cave of Wonders, a fight ring bell, chorus singing as "Prince Ali" enters the palace grounds, fireworks, a snowstorm winds, and other minor sound effects and atmospherics.

As with other Disney soundtracks, this also defaults to a low-level volume, which should be increased to the standard theatrical calibrated reference level in order to benefit fully from the dynamics and inner nuanced sonics. At reference level this is an impressive and satisfying holosonic® spherical surround soundtrack that will excite fans of this animated classic. (Gary Reber)