Expectations were set remarkably high for the new 2019 Guy Ritchie version of the beloved animated Disney tale Aladdin – but does it live up to the original?
A kind-hearted street urchin named Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and a power hungry man named Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) fight for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true.
In terms of the live action remakes of the classic Disney films, I enjoy them all for the most part, with my favorites being 2016’s The Jungle Book and 2017’s Beauty and the Beast. But when it comes to this film, I was not really all that excited about seeing it for a number of reasons. Firstly, the trailers did not impress me and I thought it did not look like a movie that had the potential to be truly great. Secondly, some of the computer generated imagery was off-putting, namely the look of the Genie portrayed by Will Smith this time around. It looked like old PlayStation 2 video game graphics.
Gratefully, now that I have seen Aladdin, I can tell you that it actually is quite a fun ride that was worth experiencing in the long run.
By far the best aspect about this film is the musical numbers here. Every single song sounds absolutely incredible and they worked so well in the context of the movie and whenever a song came on, instead of being annoyed or frustrated, I found myself smiling and having a ton of fun. There is not a single song on this soundtrack that is weak or out of place. The songs from the original version are all here but with a modern touch to them and they thankfully sound great. That was something I was worried about, because the new 2016 Ghostbusters film used the iconic theme song that fans all around the world adore, but they added a modern spin on things which made it worse.
It is also a beautiful and extremely well shot picture with the cinematography being helmed by Alan Stewart. There are numerous wide shots and scenes involving the desert and cities at night that looked genuinely gorgeous. In addition, all of the costumes are really well done and fit the film’s tone and time period perfectly. In fact, I can easily see Aladdin getting an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design when the upcoming awards show airs.
One of the best parts about Aladdin and really any other Disney tale is how charming everything feels when you are watching it. When watching this, it was so easy to feel like a kid again and Ritchie greatly encapsulated the feeling of childlike wonder here.
Comedy is quite a major element here much like the beloved first, and I found myself laughing consistently throughout the entire running time and was glad that the film did not always take itself too seriously. There are, however, only a few jokes that did not land but for the most part they work.
As mentioned earlier – after watching that trailer where we got our first look at Will Smith as the Genie this time around, I was worried that his performance would not do Robin Williams’ justice and was anxious that the CGI involved with that character would not be changed for the final cut. Surprisingly, though, I found Smith to be the absolute best part of the entire experience. His character is always so charming whenever we see him on screen, and he is infectiously likeable. Yes, the CGI does still look a tad bit off and bizarre, but to be honest, after a while, I got used to it and it did not bug me that much anymore.
Some of the acting here however is not the best. Massoud, who portrays the titular character, is consistently charming and was decent in the movie, but certainly not remarkable. But, Kenzari, who portrays the villanious Jafar, can come off as cartoonish and a trope-ridden villain at times. Some of the line delivery from him was a bit too much as well.
Speaking of dialogue, the movie does at times suffer from weak dialogue and some exposition heavy moments. Mainly, these sequences of poor dialogue come from the villain characters such as Jafar.
Also, Aladdin does feel exceptionally long, especially for a Disney family film, clocking in at a running time of one hundred and twenty eight minutes. Everything does feel quite bloated after a while, and even though I did have fun while watching it all unfold, by the end of it, I felt exhausted.
Although Aladdin does suffer from a weak villain, poor dialogue and a bloated running time, it makes up for it with its characters, music, and its sense of childlike wonder.
Overall Grade: B
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some action/peril
Cast: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Running Time: 128 minutes