Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin was more often than not, hotter than hot in a lot of good ways. What I mean to say, is that it was more than just another Arabian Night.
Smooth criminal and legendary street rat Aladdin (Mena Massoud) has his life changed forever when he helps a woman in the market of Agrabah escape a slew of guards.
On learning the woman is actually Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), Aladdin finds himself making a deal with Grand Vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) in order to get the wealth he believes he needs to impress the princess.
Aladdin ends up with more than he bargained for when he comes across a magic lamp and the Genie (Will Smith) who resides inside. Though despite the Genie’s magic being able to change who he is on the outside, Aladdin needs to learn that when push comes to shove all that matters is who you are on the inside.
To be perfectly honest I only decided I would go and see this movie a week before it came out. I hadn’t seen any trailers, had no expectations but Aladdin (1992) was one of my favourite movies, and as it’s more than a “Princess story” I figured there would be a lot more room for creative input in the remake from the Director and Writers.
The bar was pretty neutral, but I’m glad to say I was positively delighted with this movie.
Guy Ritchie is known for many a movie including the underrated King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) and it was good to see his personal flairs come through in a number of scenes. It’s most evident in Aladdin’s run through Agrabah where there were a number of pretty sweet parkour moves and slow-motion shots. Ritchie is potentially an odd choice for directing and co-writing this – or any – Disney live-action remake, but for me, half the point of them is to bring something new to the table, not stitch together a carbon copy of the original – for which he was successful in my eyes.
The story did a good job of keeping the authenticity of the animated movie alive whilst still adding its own originality through new characters, dance numbers and an original song to boot. It was also pretty funny which I didn’t expect and there were a few laugh-out-loud moments that took me by surprise.
Though I didn’t immediately buy into the casting choice of Jafar, by the end, Marwan Kenari’s depiction of a desperate man clawing for power really worked. Aladdin and Jasmine’s chemistry was there, as was Aladdin’s friendship with the Genie – so basically no complaints with the casting.
Despite obviously knowing how it would conclude, I still had a great time watching Aladdin (2019), and never found myself bored.
Robin Williams’ Genie is iconic and pretty much impossible to top, not only because he adlibbed 80% of his own dialogue, but also because it was a straight up animated movie. In that sense, a few considerations were made on my part when analysing Will Smith’s performance.
All in all, Smith did a good job of making the role his own, though there were a few scenes where he as the Genie looked and felt a little out of place/clumsy. Mostly in the effects when he was really big in size or had to do a lot of the “fast magic”.
Coming right off of that, in the beginning, I thought some of the picture editing was a little dodgy. They had clearly sped up certain frames to the point that it looked out of place. I hate noticing edits unless of course, it adds to the story – which this didn’t – it was just odd.
Though it started out fine, and is part of the original animated movie – at points the singing felt random. More so in a High School Musical way, where you just kind of forgot that the characters broke into song, so when they did it threw you off the story. Don’t get me wrong, I had chills during that first Arabian Nights number and even when Princess Jasmine hit those notes in A Whole New World, but I wonder if the movie would have worked without any singing at all.
All in all, like I’ve said; I enjoyed myself watching this movie and will happily be watching it again once it leaves the big screen. Based on some of the other live-action remakes I’ve seen to date (Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast) this one definitely tops. Despite some technical flaws, it felt different whilst still being exactly the same which is a really difficult act to balance.
We all have such high expectations these days for movies (and TV series finales) which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s our right to air our thoughts, predictions and grievances, but sometimes, it’s nice to just sit back, relax and take a magic carpet ride to a whole new world.