One of the few things that I managed to achieve during my 1 week trip home is to finish watching Disney's Aladdin Trilogy. It is quite amazing that I have never watched any of Aladdin movies (and this DVD has been sitting in my cupboard for close to 10 years) but Aladdin IS my favourite Disney's cartoon!
Just a little bit of flash back, the original Aladdin was released in 1992 and I was 5 years old. My parents only brought me to cinema once and that was for Beauty and the Beast which was released a year earlier. I could not remember much except that we watched an evening show and perhaps I fell asleep in the cinema. Haha.. Perhaps that was the reason my parents did not bring me to cinemas subsequently. The reason for my liking towards Aladdin was very simple and very childish: I was a boy so of course I prefer a male "hero" character rather than princesses! Lol.. Maybe that is another reason why I am quite fond of the Lion King although unfortunately Simba is a lion. Haha..
I remember playing both Aladdin and the Lion King in SNES. Aladdin was my favourite. I remember keep repeating the stages to achieve perfection in terms of collecting all the jewels. Aladdin is more colourful and imaginative than the Lion King which a bit more realistic. The stages and challenges in Aladdin are more varied and thus more enjoyable. I especially love the part to escape from the Cave of Wonders. I am facing more difficulties with the Lion King and that is why I did not quite enjoy the game. And again, because Simba is not a human! Other than the game, I read 4 Aladdin books as a kid. I still have the books but I can't remember the stories, I believe some Aladdin spin-off. Add the OST and these are the reasons I like Aladdin.
It is not fair to judge the movie when I am an adult now and when the movie was produced more than 2 decades ago. But I can't help but feel that the story is much simpler and childish than Disney's recent productions. Lol. However, I think that Aladdin is quite unique as compared to typical Disney's movie. It is more comical (and sometimes I feel that Genie is being overly comical that it gets corny) and more importantly, it feels more like an adventure rather than a fairy tale. Yes, this is a story about a hero saving the "world" and the princess, not the typical Disney's cartoons where the focus is on the girl singing and waiting to be rescued. For that, another bonus point for Jasmine who is a rebellious princess and not a damsel in distress. Plus she wears green sexy clothes so another bonus point for her! Haha..
Music-wise, I think Aladdin is not as good as the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, the Lion King, or even Tarzan. "A Whole New World" is cool, I agree but generally Disney's main soundtracks are good. I am referring to the other music and songs throughout the movie. Aladdin's songs are rather unimpressive as compared to the other ones I mentioned. I think it is partly because Aladdin's comedy and the songs used mainly emphasize on the comical parts of the show and can't stand on its own. I honestly can't imagine someone singing "Prince Ali" for a concert or something.. Songs from the Little Mermaid ("Under the Sea", "Kiss the Girl"), Beauty and the Beast ("Be Our Guest"), the Lion King (perhaps almost all songs), and even from Disney's classic era are masterpieces right on their own and can be sung separately from the cartoon.
Moving on to the second movie, The Return of Jafar, I thought the title sounds somewhat promising. I thought it is a pretty good sequel and I especially love the characterisation of Iago. One big downside is the music. If the songs in the original Aladdin are unimpressive as compared to other Disney's masterpiece, the songs in the Return of Jafar are unimpressive and forgettable in their own rights! Only "Forget About Love" is bearable but perhaps I am biased because I usually like songs which are sung by more than 1 character.
Aladdin and the King of Thieves is unfortunatelly an utter trash. Yes Robin Williams is back as Genie but that does not save the movie. In fact, I think he is trying to hard and his parts are so corny. It just about time for Aladdin and Jasmine to finally get married but the introduction of the forty thieves, the Hand of Midas, and Aladdin's father plot are just out of nowhere. Despite it being 4 years older than the original, the graphics are more atrocious: the characters look fugly for goodness sake! To complete this crap, the songs are completely rubbish too. The best song is "Arabian Nights". Haha.. Okay slightly different lyrics from the first Aladdin but hey, I thought it was quite nice that the trilogy opens with "Arabian Nights" and also ends with the same tune.
There is a bonus in Aladdin about a song which was dropped from the movie: "Proud of Your Boy". Apparently the final product is very different from the initial plan. Initially, Aladdin was planned to be younger rascal and there is an Aladdin's mom character. I thought the song is very touching both in lyrics and music. I think every kid, or in fact, everyone will be able to relate to the songs. As kids, we used to be little rascals and bastards who constantly cause our parents to be worried. There will be a moment when we were enlightened and we wanted to make our parents proud! I especially thought the last few lines to be very powerful and I always make me tear:
Though I can't make myself taller or smarter or handsome or wise
I'll do my best, what else can I do?
Since I wasn't born perfect like dad or you
Mom, I will try to..
Try hard to make you proud of your boy