Aladdin Stands the Test of Time


In late November of 1992,  Disney created an animated film that was a booming success. Based on Arabic folklore, Aladdin was released to major box office profit, and many families soon owned a VHS tape of the movie in their homes. However, since the movie came out 30 years ago, does it still hold up by today’s standards? 

The movie stars the titular Aladdin, who is an urban street rat in the fictional middle eastern city of Agrabah. Aladdin lives with his monkey partner Abu, who wears a cute little vest and fez. Forced to steal food to get by, Aladdin and Abu mainly earn their keep using their cunning and quick wit. However, this quick wit is tested by royal advisor Jafar, who wishes to marry princess Jasmine in order to become Sultan. Since Jasmine wants nothing to do with Jafar, he seeks out a magic lamp that’s said to grant any of the user’s three wishes. This endeavor fails, however, when Jafar learns that only a “diamond in the rough” may enter the treasure hold in which the lamp resides. 

This diamond in the rough is, of course, our Aladdin. Once the authorities finally catch up to him, he’s taken into a holding cell to presumably rot for his crimes. This is until Jafar, disguised as a decrepit old man, saves Aladdin and informs him of a magic lamp that can grant any wish. This soon turns into Aladdin forging into the treasure-wracked cavern to find the lamp.

So far, the audience is easily charmed by these characters. Aladdin’s opening sequence where he evades the law attaches the viewer to him and makes us cheer him on. Although Jasmine is a very stereotypical Disney princess (she wants nothing to do with royalty, and wants to marry someone that isn’t a prince), she’s portrayed in a light that makes us want her to be happy. I was always a fan of ruthless Disney villains, so Jafar being all but irredeemable in his methods to woo Jasmine makes me happy. When Jafar disguises himself as an old coot, it doesn’t simply deceive Aladdin for the sake of the plot; Jafar genuinely looks like a different person. Overall, the movie sets itself up perfectly. 

Just before forging into the cave, Jafar warns Aladdin to not take anything but the lamp. Jumping at the chance for treasure, Aladdin quickly agrees and walks into the cave. The scenes that follow are beautifully portrayed. The glittering mounds of gold deep in the cave help sell their endless nature, and the gemstones stand out using vibrant colors. Aladdin and Abu meet a magic flying carpet in this cave, who quickly becomes their friend and a sort of rival to Abu. All seems to be going well in the cavern. 

At the end of the cavern, after Aladdin finds the lamp, there’s a massive crimson gem presented to our protagonist. Aladdin is able to resist the guile of the gem, but Abu ends up stealing it. This causes the cave to collapse, which ends up in an action-packed scene where Aladdin is trying to flee the increasingly dangerous cavern. Aladdin cinematically grabs the ledge for the cave exit right as it all crumbles beneath him, and he requests the still-disguised Jafar to help him up. Jafar first requests the lamp, to which Aladdin obliges. Jafar reveals himself and sends Aladdin careening into the cave.

We’re able to feel the helplessness Aladdin is experiencing with Abu in the void of the cave. All seems lost. This is until Abu reveals he stole the lamp back from Jafar right before falling. Aladdin rubs the lamp and is greeted by a genie, who is tricked by Aladdin’s cunning to free the two from the cave without using a wish. Aladdin then wishes to be a prince, and after a heart-to-heart with the genie, promises to use his third wish to set the genie free. 

Even after a very cinematic sequence presenting the new Prince Ali to Princess Jasmine, she isn’t sold. However, Aladdin takes her on a magic carpet ride with an accompanying song that succeeds in charming every audience member, at the very least. The visuals here are stunning too as Aladdin and Jasmine fly from location to location. All seems to be going well for the two. 

Eventually, Jafar gets his hand on the genie lamp and wishes to be an all-powerful Sultan, and then the most powerful sorcerer in the entire world. This tyranny that ensues makes us feel bleak for our characters, wondering if they’ll ever get out from under Jafar’s thumb. This only lasts until Aladdin uses his quick wit to trick Jafar into wishing he was a genie, effectively forcing him into a tiny lamp that they can seamlessly dispose of. Jafar is defeated and Jasmine is saved. 

Aladdin is given an ultimatum for his last wish. He could either save the genie as he’d promised, or he could wish that Jasmine could marry a non-prince so that they could be together forever. Genie urges Aladdin to wish for Jasmine’s freedom from this rule; after all, this is love. Aladdin quickly denies him and wishes for his freedom, much to his surprise. The Sultan quickly rushes in and informs Jasmine that she can marry whomever she wants, meaning that Aladdin undeniably made the right choice. All our characters live happily ever after: at least until the sequel.

Overall, there’s a reason this movie is considered a Disney classic, just about every facet of the movie is amazing, save for maybe some over-saturated plot points. The musical numbers are all catchy and the visuals are stunning. What few objects that are animated using CGI are animated very well, and they fit easily into their surroundings. All in all, the movie easily holds up to the high standards it was held to on release.

Overall: 9.5/10

Categories: Entertainment, Opinion

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