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Disney's Platinum Edition DVDs: Snow White and the Seven DwarfsBeauty and the Beast
The Lion KingAladdinBambiCinderellaLady and the TrampThe Little Mermaid
Peter PanThe Jungle Book101 Dalmatians • Sleeping Beauty • Pinocchio

Aladdin: Platinum Edition - Collector's Gift Set DVD Review

"Aladdin" (1992) movie poster - click to buy and browse through more Aladdin

Theatrical Release: November 25, 1992 / Running Time: 90 Minutes / Rating: G

Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker

Voice Cast: Scott Weinger (Aladdin), Robin Williams (Genie), Linda Larkin (Jasmine), Jonathan Freeman (Jafar), Frank Welker (Abu), Gilbert Gottfried (Iago), Douglas Seale (Sultan)

Songs: "Arabian Nights", "One Jump Ahead", "Friend Like Me", "Prince Ali", "A Whole New World", "Prince Ali Reprise"

Awards: Academy Awards - Best Song ("A Whole New World"), Best Original Score (Alan Menken); Golden Globes - Best Original Score, Best Original Song ("A Whole New World"), Special Award for Vocal Work (Robin Williams)

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Page 1: Disc 1 - The Movie, Video and Audio, Changes to the Film, Bonus Features, Menus
Page 2: Disc 2 - Bonus Features, Menus, Packaging, Collector's Gift Set, Closing Thoughts
Page 3: Collector's Gift Set in Detail

COLLECTOR'S GIFT SET IN DETAIL

By Jake Lipson / Photographs by Clayton (panhead4life)

At one point in Aladdin, the title character, depressed, sings a brief I-want song in which he says that if people would look closer, they’d see that there’s so much more to him than they see now. You may think the same holds true for the movie’s DVD release, because, like The Lion King before it, Aladdin has been released to DVD simultaneously in two configurations. One, of course, is the regular double-disc Platinum Edition DVD that will quickly become a staple of DVD collections the world over. But if you wish for even more than that release has to offer, there’s also this limited edition Collector’s DVD Gift Set. This deluxe box set contains the Platinum Edition DVD plus assorted physical Aladdin memorabilia. If you look closer, is there really so much more in the gift set, and is it worth your extra money?

Look at that big Gift Set! Clockwise from top left: 'Diamond in the Rough' companion book, the big cardboard box, the Folder o' Goodies, and the Platinum Edition DVD that's also sold separately.

The box itself is made of thick cardboard, and you’ll immediately notice the emphasis that the set has placed on artwork. The box is decorated with a very artistic image of the Cave of Wonders in the Arabian desert beneath the nighttime sky and the Aladdin Special Edition DVD logo.
The background theme continues around to the spine and back of the box, with the logo also appearing on the spine. The shrinkwrap also contains a sticker reminding customers that the set comes in limited supply, and there is a cardboard band describing the contents found within, which fits around the box, a la the bands found on the Walt Disney Treasures tins. Unfortunately, the box is prone to showing fingerprints, and owners will need to wipe their set off every once in a while for it to continue to look “clean.”

The DVD contained in the set is identical to the Platinum Editions sold separately, packaged with a slipcover, as has become the norm, and shrinkwrapped over the case but beneath the slipcover. It seems that many people (myself included) did not receive the coupon booklet and sweepstakes entry form in the DVD bundled inside the set. If you find yourself without all proper inserts you may contact Walt Disney Home Entertainment consumer relations at 1-800-723-4763 and they will be happy to mail anything missing to you.

So, what exclusive treasures have been included? The first thing I looked at was A Diamond in the Rough, a sleek, handsome 160-page hardcover book. The book’s cover matches the look of the outer box art, with the addition of Aladdin and Jasmine flying away on Carpet against a bright full moon. Lavish illustrations adorn the glossy, sturdy pages of this book, which is divided into several sections.

Table of Contents page of the book. Colorful illustrations on the 'Wish One' title page.

In the foreword, co-directors and co-screenwriters of Aladdin John Musker and Ron Clements reflect on their rewarding experiences making the film and discuss some of the more prominent extras found on the DVD. After this brief introduction, the reader finds three chapters (labelled “wishes”) in the ‘making-of’ portion of the book, all written by Jim Fanning.

The first section, A Whole New World, is essentially a fancy chapter insert and a very promotional one, in which it appears that Disney is trying to sell the reader on the DVD with which the book is bundled. It sets the stage on the process of animating Aladdin, recalls its huge success at the box office (pictures of the theatrical teaser and launch posters for the 1992 release are included), and then goes on to talk about the DVD features.

In the most welcome pages, the book addresses the enhancements made to the film “to match the sharper DVD image quality,” deliberately failing to mention the fact that the said enhancements were really done for an IMAX release that never materialized. (Though the enhancements to the film were completed, the release was cancelled due to Disney’s failure to make a substantial profit on the previous IMAX releases of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.) Still, it’s nice for Disney to publicly acknowledge that the film is not available in its original cut. It also reinforces that the enhancements really are enhancements, like touched-up backgrounds and more facial details, rather than something intrusive to the movie experience like new CGI or entirely new scenes (The Morning Report, I’m looking at you.) Most fans probably won’t notice any touch-ups unless you really, really look, with the film slowed to frame-by-frame. Included is a before-and-after picture of a shot of Aladdin falling through the Cave of Wonders, showing him and the background to be more detailed in the reworked version, but not much else. Also discussed is the new Disney Enhanced Home Theater sound mix and the reason for its creation.

The section wraps up with a look at “Proud of Your Boy”, the deleted song from the film that got something of a revival on the DVD. Acknowleding that at one time the filmmakers and composer Alan Menken considered inserting it into the film (ŕ la Beauty and the Beast’s “Human Again” and “The Morning Report” in The Lion King), the book notes that this idea was scrapped in favor of a music video, sung by Clay Aiken of “American Idol” fame.

'Wish Two' title page. As in the film, the merchant introduces the story (section of the book).

Wish Two: A Whole New World Revealed offers a look at the making of the film, first discussing the cast and crew reunion that became the core of the DVD’s central documentary, A Diamond in the Rough. What follows is a glimpse behind the scenes, featuring summaries and quotes as those gathered at the event reminisce about the movie’s production.
While it touches on several aspects of the movie, it ends up serving as a cliffs-notes version of the documentary, with its greatest purpose likely to be as a text reference for people who don’t have the time to find something in the DVD’s documentary.

Lastly in the making-of section is Wish Three: A Whole New World of Fun and Games, which, as implied, discusses the games that can be found on the DVD. Like the first “Wish,” it seems promotionally-oriented, and rather pointless since the games are aimed at children, who obviously would not have bought a $50 SRP collector’s set.

The remainining portion of Diamond in the Rough is a storybook retelling of the movie written by Monique Peterson. Yes, if you just want a storybook of the movie, one can be found at any bookstore, real or online. What differentiates this from others? The illustrations. As an Aladdin fanatic, I own several such books and have seen countless others, but never have I seen a higher quality version of the story in book format than this.

Most, if not all, of the illustrations in the storybook are taken directly from the film, and take up the vast majority of each page (with other, smaller ones inserted as well.) What’s more, several emphasize backgrounds over character, allowing the reader to savor the detailed brilliance of the background artwork close-up and without moving animation. This makes it easier to notice finer, subtle details that may whiz past you during a viewing of the film. It is a shame that this storybook portion is not available separately for those who would never think of owning the gift set. Reasonably priced, I would buy a second copy. The story retelling takes us through to the final pages of the book.

Seeing all it has to offer, the book disappoints me in some respects. It’s filled to the brim with great artwork, but so much of it is a rehash of what is on the DVD itself that I’m not sure how much use anyone will get out of it. Disney has failed to take advantage of the printed format and offer something different than what is on the disc. What they could very well have done is provide something better suited to book form, such as a copy of the screenplay, the original “Arabian Nights” stories upon which Aladdin is based, or any other documents related to the film’s production. These could have gone on the DVD as text screens, if Disney had wanted to include them, but it would have been easiest to access them in print. Overall, the book is not outright bad, even if it does lack a certain spark of creativity.

Seven character sketches by the supervising animators of "Aladdin." A look at the senitype featuring Aladdin and Jasmine.

Looking back inside the Gift Set box, you also find a strong cardboard portfolio folder. This folder holds photocopies of seven character portrait drawings done by the original supervising animators, as well as a reproduction film cel. The drawings depict Aladdin, Jasmine, Abu, Genie, Jafar, Iago, and The Sultan, and each features the signature of the corresponding animator, reproduced not hand-signed. Each sketch comes in a paper frame of sorts and is suitable for hanging, should you find something with which to hang it. A certificate of authenticity is also included.

The final bonus for gift set owners is a film cel reproduction (called a Senitype), enclosed in its own (removable) plastic wrap. The front of the paper on which the cel is printed also features a nice drawing of the lamp and the DVD logo, and the back is individually numbered. The back also features a brief description of what a Senitype is and how they are created. The cel itself is a shot of Aladdin and Jasmine during the "A Whole New World" magic carpet ride sequence, but your mileage may vary.

Those are the wonders that lie within the Aladdin Collector’s DVD Gift Set. They’re not quite as plentiful as the countless treasures inside the Cave of Wonders, and there’s no genie trapped in here that I know of. But diehard Aladdin fans will definitely want to consider it, even if it’s not the must-have it could have been. (Texts could have fit nicely into the book, a bonus DVD could have included the curiously absent 1992 making-of documentary, a bonus CD could have provided all the deleted songs and alternate cues from the huge Music Behind the Magic four-disc boxed set. I could go on.)

Those who love the film’s distinctive artwork, or the artistic angle of animated features in general, will get the most out of this set, as that is its main focus. Admittedly, it does score high in the “just looking nifty” category and you’ll have to wait a lot longer than 1,001 Arabian nights for a more definitive Aladdin home video release.

Buy the Aladdin: Collector's Gift Set from Amazon Marketplace

This "Aladdin" Collector's Gift Set makes a nice-looking addition to any Disney shelf, even if you don't have multiple copies like photographer Clayton.

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Related Reviews:

Other Platinum Editions:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Platinum Edition
Beauty and the Beast: Platinum Edition
The Lion King: Platinum Edition
Bambi: Platinum Edition
Cinderella: Platinum Edition
Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition
The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition
Peter Pan: Platinum Edition
The Jungle Book: Platinum Edition
101 Dalmatians: Platinum Edition
Sequels and DVDs Featuring Episodes of "Aladdin" TV Series:
The Return of Jafar & Aladdin and the King of Thieves (Aladdin II & III Collection)
Disney Princess Stories: Volume 1 - A Gift from The Heart
Disney Princess Stories: Volume 2 - Tales of Friendship
Disney Princess Stories: Volume 3 - Beauty Shines From Within
Disney Princess Party: Volume 2

Related Pages:
UltimateDisney.com's Interview with Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, the writers of Aladdin and Pirates of the Caribbean
UltimateDisney.com Spring 2004 Countdown: The Top 100 Disney Songs
UltimateDisney.com Fall 2003 Countdown: The Top 25 Disney Animated Classics
UltimateDisney.com Fall 2004 Countdown: The Top 30 Disney Villains
UltimateDisney.com Spring 2005 Countdown: The Top 50 Disney Heroes & Heroines

Reviewed October 10, 2004.