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Aladdin (1992) might be my favorite Disney film of all time. It has the perfect amount of humor, heart, magic, joy, and beauty that makes 2D Disney a huge part of my life. So, when I heard they were doing a live-action remake, and it was going to be directed by Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes), I was extremely skeptical. What we got ended up being a perfectly acceptable live-action retelling that doesn't add a whole lot to the story, but manages to entertain nonetheless.

OPENING THOUGHTS:

DIRECTION:

Considering Guy Ritchie has never done a big, lavish musical before, he does a decent job directing here. Nothing too extraordinary is going on, but the actors are all likable and are directed well with the musical segments ranging from well done (“Friend Like Me” & “Prince Ali”), sloppy but acceptable (the editing of “One Jump Ahead” was very strange & the CGI for “A Whole New World” was too obvious) and completely out of place (“Speechless” is a great song, but the sequence feels so crammed in). It's a mixed bag, and Ritchie's direction doesn't really have his signature on it at all, which really makes me wonder why Disney wanted him to direct rather than anyone else. Still, he does solid work.

PLOT:

It's basically the same plot as the original movie with about 15% new stuff, longer versions of the same songs and scenes from the original, some line changes here and there just to keep it fresh (EX. except "Sunday Salaam" he says "Friday Salaam"), a couple of new (and fun) side characters, and a much more fleshed out version of Jasmine. Besides that, it’s basically the same movie. That’s not really a problem in my eyes, but I would've liked some of that new stuff to be a bit more fleshed out (like Jasmine was) and maybe some of the old we already know not to be extended longer than they already were. If you're going to add new stuff, then you should focus more on it. Here, it feels like they just added new scenes and characters just so they can say that they did (ex. "Speechless" felt very underwhelming because of its placement). It's still a classic story that I love returning to, and they didn't tarnish it so I gotta give them credit there I guess.

 

ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:

I'm very happy with how these characters were portrayed in this film. As I said, I love the original film and no one can ever top the amazing vocal performances of that cast. That being said, Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Naomi Scott (Jasmine), and Will Smith (Genie) all make their respective roles their own and that's exactly what I was hoping they would do (especially Will Smith). Robin Williams was Genie. No other person on Earth could play that character in that movie, so I'm glad Smith made the role his own while also keeping the energetic spirit of the old Genie intact. Massoud is immediately likable as the titular character, and while his character gets the least amount of development of the three, he holds his own and makes for an entertaining protagonist. Scott is brilliant as Jasmine, and her new enhanced version of the character is one of the very few things that I would say this movie debatably did better than the original. Also, she sure can sing. I almost wish she had one more song to herself that didn't feel so abrupt and forced in. The supporting cast does a great job as well, with standouts being Billy Magnussen as the new character Anders and Nasim Pedrad as Dalia (Jasmine's very funny handmaiden). I’d rather not get into Jafar right now, but I will say I don't blame Marwan Kenzari at all. I think he does a fine job of playing a more generic version of the classic villain. It's just depressing to see such a great and likable villain turned into a sneering, boring, and bland one.

VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:

MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:

“ARABIAN NIIIIIIIIGGGGGHHHHHHTTTTSSSSSS!!!!! Prince Ali! Fabulous he! Ali Ababwwwwwaaaaaaaa!!!” GOD! I love the music in Aladdin, and like the acting above, they respected the original and made these versions of the classic songs different enough while also keeping the joy and beauty of each one. It's fortunate that Disney also had some terrific performers to really imbue these new versions with heart, humor, and emotion. “Speechless” being the only new song makes it really stick out, but the song itself is solid, and Naomi Scott really nails the emotion of the lyrics. Listening to it in the soundtrack emphasizes how great of a singer she really is. There aren’t many flaws here, but I will say I prefer the original version of “Prince Ali” immensely.

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

A mixed bag to say the least. When it comes to the positive, the city of Agrabah looks gorgeous with certain shots looking exactly like shots from the original movie. The costumes are all beautiful, colorful, and really emphasize the more Bollywood feel to this version of Aladdin. “Friend Like Me” is easily the most visually exciting and inventive sequence in the entire movie. Also, Abu and Lago in this version looked good, and there wasn't a time when I didn't believe they weren't real. Now, for the negative. I feel some of the CGI really detracted from the magical feel that the original had. Especially with the Genie. Smith's face on the CGI body just doesn't work. It doesn't look horrible, but the Uncanny Valley was knocking on my door every time I saw his floating face on that goofy blue body. Luckily, he spends a lot of the time in human form, so it's not a huge issue. “A Whole New World” takes a big dip in quality because of the overuse of poorly done special effects and almost laughably bad green screen work. It’s a shame, because it’s a great rendition of that wonderful song. There are other little moments of poor CGI, but I won't be too harsh. I'll just say that The Lion King obviously had more focus put on it over this or Dumbo.

While not without its problems, Aladdin (2019) is a very entertaining live-action remake with plenty of visual style and great performances, but it also has some unfortunate special effects and doesn't add enough to really justify its existence. Still, it's a good time in the theater, and if you have kids that are too young to see the awesomeness of John Wick 3, then you won't be bored. It’s a genuinely solid attempt. Disney, please slow it down with the live-action remakes though.

  "Prince Ali Got You To The Door, But Aladdin Has To Open It."

  • Connor Petrey
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Movie Review

CASUAL

 Written By Christopher Henderson

Published: 05.28.19

    MPAA: PG

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Ediited By McKayla Hockett

Release: 05.24.19

   Genre: Adventure. Comedy. Fantasy.

CONCLUSIVE VERDICT:

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