We don’t normally review movies, but given Aladdin is one of my favourite movies of all time, and I feel many of you will share the same sentiment, I felt like I wanted to get my thoughts out there. Now, I had felt a little worried (or underwhelmed) with some of the previews that I had seen over the last 6-12 months, and those echoes were widely shared among others online, but I felt compelled to write this for exactly that reason.
The new Aladdin is absolutely fantastic. It’s not better than the original, and it didn’t need to be, but it tells the story of Aladdin, Jasmine and their colourful cast of friends pretty perfectly for the current climate. If I was comparing the two, I’d say that it sets alongside the original extremely well, and offers up something different that doesn’t take away from what made the movie great in the first place.
I’m going to dive right in to the most divisive part of the live-action adaption – Will Smith as Genie. I thought he was absolutely fantastic and captured the essence of Genie perfectly. Now, it was going to be tough for anyone to match Robin William’s charisma, and I’m not even sure that Williams himself could have delivered the type of performance that he did in the original, in a live-action performance, but Will Smith nailed it.
During his musical performances, he brought a RnB/Soulful vibe, which was much appreciated and made the songs feel much more current (but still faithful to the originals). Musically, it was much closer to the Broadway version of Aladdin, which worked well. There’s some rapping and beat boxing, which you’d think would be out of place, but given its subtlety it worked really well.
Narratively, the Genie played a more important role in the overall story of the movie (no spoilers). It gave him a character arc (outside of being Aladdin’s Genie), and allowed him to work well with Aladdin, Jasmine as well as Dalla (Jasmine’s maid who is completely new to this adaption and plays a major role in the movie).
It’s really hard to talk about Dalla without going into spoiler territory, but she plays a major role in the movie from start to finish and does a really good job at bringing certain parts of the plot (that felt loose before) together. She also has a really clumsy sense of humour, which captures the original playful tone of the movie.
Visually, the movie is stunning and this is captured really well in the ‘Friend Like Me’ and ‘Prince Ali’ musical performances. I was wondering how they’d recapture the magic of these songs in a live-action adaption, but it absolutely surpassed what we saw in the animated version of the movie. It was magical, out of this world and absolutely brought a smile to my face, which is exactly what I want from a Disney movie.
The entire soundtrack has a new lease on life, and I can’t wait to listen to it all on repeat once it releases (as an adult this time around).
Both Aladdin and Jasmine’s performances were captured perfectly by Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott respectively. Their delivery of lines (most of which are classics) and mannerisms made them feel like the perfect actors to play these characters. There were a few scenes which felt a little bit clumsy in a live-action setting, but nothing that ruined it for me.
Jasmine’s role in particular feels more prominent. Her message is definitely of female empowerment which is illustrated by her performance of Speechless (a brand-new song to this version of the movie). It’s a classic song and instantly has the hallmarks of a Disney classic. It didn’t feel out of place, and is definitely catchy.
Abu and Iago still play a major part in the movie. Iago in particular is much subtler in the way that he speaks. He talks under his breath (like a normal parrot should), but still plays a major role as Jafar’s sidekick, is influential to some key scenes in the movie and doesn’t feel out of place with the rest of the movie.
I must admit, the movie does have a bit of a pacing issue near the beginning and somewhere in the third quarter of the movie. It feels as if there are a few too many setbacks for Aladdin (that feel a little unbelievable). He gets out of them way too easily, which makes them feel a little bit superficial, but at the end of the day, him overcoming these setbacks does make for an even better, feel good ending.
Disney’s Aladdin is a cinematic feast. The soundtrack is as addictive as ever, the story still leaves you on the edge of your seat (which is helped by stunning performances by the cast) and it will leave you with that warm, fuzzy feeling that only a Disney movie can.