Aladdin (2019)

Movie Title: Aladdin

Year Released: 2019

Rated: PG

Runtime: 2h 10min

Genre: Musical, Fantasy

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: John August, Guy Ritchie

Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, Numan Acar, Alan Tudyk, Frank Welker

Review: Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is a lovable street urchin who meets Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), the beautiful daughter of the sultan of Agrabah. While visiting her exotic palace, Aladdin stumbles upon a magic oil lamp that unleashes a powerful, wisecracking, larger-than-life genie (Will Smith). As Aladdin and the genie start to become friends, they must soon embark on a dangerous mission to stop the evil sorcerer Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) from overthrowing young Jasmine's kingdom.

Over the last few years, Disney has been adapting many of their animated classics into new live-action adaptations. The highly-anticipated live-action version of 1992's Aladdin is finally here and it's been met with mixed reviews from critics. With that said, audiences have largely enjoyed this new film, and I am not an exception. I think Aladdin (2019) did a fantastic job of preserving the original story that made the 1992 animated version an all-time classic, while also adding subtle twists and turns to deliver a fresh product. For starters, I was very skeptical about Will Smith taking on the monumental task of fulfilling the shoes of Robin Williams as the film's genie. Early looks at the trailer, with the depiction of a CGI'd blue Smith gallivanting around as the genie were met largely with eye rolls and skepticism. I think Smith did a fantastic job taking on the iconic role, making the character his own while also paying homage to the legendary Williams. Smith along with Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott were fantastic in regards to all of the performing aspects of the film. The singing and dance choreography were phenomenal, with Scott really breaking out and showcasing her amazing musical talents on more than one occasion. Massoud was appropriately charismatic in the lead titular role. There were two characters who were not in the original who were introduced in this film. As a fan of Nasim Pedrad and her comedic work, her character Dalia who acted as Princess Jasmine's handmaiden, was a welcomed inclusion to the story with an interesting character twist and a source of comedic relief. Billy Magnussen portrayed Prince Anders, a potential suitor for Princess Jasmine. Anders was dim-witted, and mostly unnecessary in my opinion. My biggest issue with the film was the characterization of Jafar, who in the 1992 animated version, was a tall, imposing, and ruthless character. Marwan Kenzari is a fine actor who did the most that he could with the character, but I think he lacked some of the physical and more menacing personality traits that made the animated Jafar such a terrifying figure. Again, I don't think he did a bad job considering the task, but I think the character could have been written differently or perhaps rendered differently with regards to his costume. All in all, I love Aladdin (1992), and rather than nit-pick every little aspect of this new film like so many critics have done, I prefer to just sit back and enjoy the spectacle. The performances are great, the story is authentic, and Agrabah looked beautiful in a live-action setting. I can't really complain too much, and like most audience members, I really enjoyed this movie, and highly recommend it to all who loved the 1992 animated classic!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: In the "Friend Like Me" musical number, the magic carpet can be seen doing the Carlton dance made famous by Alfonso Ribeiro in the hit TV show, Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990). Ribeiro starred alongside Will Smith in the show, which was largely responsible for springboarding Smith into stardom.


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