“Aladdin”- Movie Review
Aladdin is the latest in a long string of live action Disney remakes that really shouldn’t exist. You all know the story. A charming street urchin named Aladdin (played excellently by newcomer Mena Massoud) falls in love with Jasmine (Naomi Scott), princess of the desert kingdom of Agrabah. Following a botched mission to retrieve a magic lamp for the sinister Grand Vizier, Jafar (Marwen Kenzari), Aladdin realizes that he’s stumbled on a unique opportunity. The lamp’s occupant (Will Smith) offers to grant him three wishes, whatever his heart desires. With his heart set on the princess, Aladdin is prepared to go above and beyond to impress her, even if that means getting in Jafar’s way.
Before I go any further, I should preface with this: I don’t hate the Disney remakes. Do I think the studio should go back to creating original content? Absolutely. Am I well aware that these movies are made to capitalize on our nostalgia, and that by spending money on them, I’m contributing to the problem of their continuing existence? Yes and yes. At the same time, however, I must admit that I’m a sucker for live action adaptations of classic stories. I like to imagine how the worlds and characters I grew up with would look in the flesh, and I’m pretty open to new interpretations.
With that being said, 2019’s Aladdin is a fine rendition. It’s nowhere near as good as the 1992 original, but let’s be honest, was anyone expecting it to be? The film works best when you take it at face value. That’s not to say comparisons shouldn’t be made. Though keep in mind that if you’re going into this movie solely to be entertained and not to measure it up to the 1992 version, you’ll get your money’s worth.
The film is well-acted and decently made. Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott are fantastic as the leads. Aspects of how their characters are written feels forced, but their chemistry seems natural. That, mixed with their performances, are enough to convince you that they are the original Aladdin and Jasmine come to life. Will Smith does a decent job as the Genie, working best when he’s not trapped inside a puffy blue inflatable CGI effect. Marwen Kenzari does his best as a younger, less creepy Jafar, though he’s just not threatening enough to leave an impression. The colorful cinematography elevate the fantastical elements of the story. The costumes and practical set designs are beautiful, and they, more so than the original, embraces the Middle Eastern cultures from which the Aladdin folk tale is derived. This is reflected in the music as well, which includes more instrumental versions of the songs we know and love. The musical sequences are energetic and well-choreographed (especially “One Jump Ahead” and “Friend Like Me”).
Overall, Aladdin is a fun movie. It’s a pointless remake, and some of the changes they make to the story do create parts that drag a bit. But as is, it’s a decent reimagining. Of all the Disney remakes, this one is probably the most rewatchable, and it’s worth the (cheapest) price of admission.