Over the past several years Disney has been recreating its classic animated films in a live-action format. The latest movie to get this treatment is Aladdin. There has been a lot of discussions about this movie. Specifically, if anyone could give a performance that would even come close to Robin Williams’ Genie. I recently attended an advanced screening of the film and am happy to say while the film isn’t perfect, it has a lot of heart and magic!
“A thrilling and vibrant live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic, Aladdin is the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin, the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine and the Genie who may be the key to their future. Directed by Guy Ritchie, who brings his singular flair for fast-paced, visceral action to the fictitious port city of Agrabah, Aladdin is written by John August and Ritchie based on Disney’s “Aladdin.” The film stars Will Smith as the Genie; Mena Massoud as Aladdin; Naomi Scott as Jasmine; Marwan Kenzari as Jafar; Navid Negahban as the Sultan; Nasim Pedrad as Dalia and Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders.”
Let’s get one thing straight right away, Aladdin is visually stunning! I saw it on the IMAX screen and was wowed by the spectacle! The CGI is noticeable but doesn’t detract from the experience. The story itself is somewhat different than the original but it definitely works. Jasmine is given a more prominent role which enhances the movie quite a bit. I don’t want to spoil it but it was definitely a welcome change. One of the best scenes in the film is the Prince Ali sequence. The combination of the visual effects and the music will have you tapping your feet.
I think we should address the big blue elephant in the room, and I’m not talking about Abu. There was a fair amount of skepticism leading up to the release of the movie in regards to the Genie. Will Smith had some big shoes to fill after Robin Williams’ portrayal. I am happy to say that the skepticism is unfounded. Will Smith makes the role his own and really nails it. For the most part, the casting of the film is quite good. The only character I wasn’t 100% sold on was Jafar. I’m not sure if it was the acting or the writing, but he was a bit flat.
The hardest thing for me to get to used to initially was the change in the soundtrack. A lot of the songs have minor changes made while a few are changed entirely. Additionally, Jasmine has a brand new song, not in the original film. Once I got over the shock of the changes, I actually really enjoyed the new soundtrack. It really plays up to the strengths of the cast, especially Will Smith.
Overall, Aladdin is a really fun movie! If you loved the original, you will definitely enjoy this movie. Despite the changes, it really feels updated for the time and will introduce young ones to “a whole new world”! I also strongly suggest seeing it on an IMAX screen if you have the opportunity, it will blow you away!