Movie Review: ‘Aladdin’


27 years after the Disney animation, the announcement of the much acclaimed ‘Aladdin’ (1992) being turned into a live-action musical caused much excitement for Disney fans worldwide. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the biggest unique selling point has been Will Smith reviving the unforgettable role of the Genie, originally voiced by the late great Robin Williams. However, the question remains whether the live-action version will live up to that of the much loved animated film. And had Ritchie done enough to pull off such a huge film.

When Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) is rescued by Aladdin (Mena Massoud) from the palace guards after having given bread to hungry children without paying, she’s instantly mesmerized by his modest living which looks over the whole of Agraba, and though he’s a thief, his knowledge of the ins and outs of the city impress her further. Knowing that he or his pet monkey Abu don’t recognise her, Jasmine reveals to Aladdin, she’s actually the princess’ lady in waiting. After she suddenly leaves Aladdin has already fallen for her, and with Abu having stolen her bracelet, brings up the perfect opportunity to sneak into the palace to give it back and meet her once more. However, after his successful entry, Aladdin exit fails where he is caught by the guards in his way out, who take him to the desert where he meets the King’s royal vizier the evil Jafar (Marwan Kenzari). Making a deal with Aladdin to enter the cave of wonders and bring him a lamp, Jaffar promises Aladdin all the riches in the world. However, just as the cave is collapsing around him as he struggles to come out, Jaffar, having obtained the lamp, let’s Aladdin and Abu fall to what he thinks would be their death. However, Abu having stoles the lamp back, Aladdin discovers, the lamp holds the most magical, mystical character he has ever seen…the Genie. Granting him 3 wishes, the Genie looks to be Aladdin’s ticket out from rags to riches. Though the road isn’t all that easy, here begins a journey of adventure, self-discovery friendship and more.

There’s no doubt in saying the star of the show is Smith, where he has made the burden of reviving such an iconic role seem as light as a father. Playing the perfect Genie, Smith’s performance was full of charisma and fun and you can’t help but just sing along to those memorable tunes, laugh at his comical dialogues and enjoy his performance as a while as he makes the character his own. Massoud as Aladdin also works well; his biggest asset is that perfect smile and those lushes locks. Though he isn’t instantly convincing as the chocolate boy Aladdin from the animation, his wit and charm quickly grow on the audience. His chemistry’s with both Smith and Scott work very well in their own right, and he manages the leave a lasting impression on his viewers. Scott has been placed as the perfect Princess Jasmine. She beautiful, strong headed and equally charming. What makes Scott’s performance special is that, unlike the animated character, this Jasmine has more of an ambition than just to marry the right person. Her drive to go against tradition and become the Sultan after her father, despite the refusal of those in charge, adds the element of empowerment, influencing the young girls of today to grow into their own. Jafar is played wonderfully by Kenzari who depicts absolute evil. Also making this iconic villain his own, one can’t imagine anyone else playing such an unlikable character, where Kenzari adds a touch of madness to his performance. As well as Smith, Nasrin Pedrad who plays Jasmin’s actual maid also adds an element of comedy. She’s also Jasmin’s only friend where the audiences are compelled to love her character instantly.

It’s fair to say Ritchie has done a fantastic job in bringing such a classic film to life. Ensuring that his actors play their characters authentically, he has managed to make a film which is both beautiful and entertaining. Though he has tweeted the story in places, it doesn’t fail to have the element of nostalgia, bringing these characters, the dialogues and especially those classic songs to life Ritchie has made a film that touches the hearts of his audiences just and the animation film had done. For those looking for the exact film that came out in 1992, they will be slightly disappointed with a few elements of this live action. Where in the cartoon the parrot Iago has more of a role, Ritchie has simply added Jafar’s pet as a side character with not much to say. Though, this can easily be forgiven as all the other elements are very well present. The songs have the power to bring back ones childhood memories, with an added extra that reflects Jasmine’s strong-headed personality.

Overall, ‘Aladdin’ is a wonderful watch for all the family and for those of all ages. Instead of missing the characters and voices of the animation, the audience are pleasantly reminded of the sheer joy of them, and the same feeling of excitement, awe and anticipation is present from start to finish.

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