Directed by Guy Ritchie and a live-action adaptation of the 1992 animated Disney film of the same name, which itself is based on the eponymous tale from One Thousand and One Nights, Aladdin follows a street rat (Mena Massoud) who frees a genie (Will Smith) from a lamp and is granted three wishes. Transforming himself into a charming prince in order to marry the beautiful Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), his plans are disturbed when an evil sorcerer (Marwan Kenzari) becomes hell-bent on securing the lamp for his own sinister purposes.
The announcement of another Disney remake always stirs up a lot of opinions. Personally, I know that I’m not going to enjoy most of them, but there are a few that I’ve been looking forward to and some of that have impressed me so far. This is one that I thought would work well as a live-action adaptation with it having human characters that could successfully be brought to life, so I was most excited for this one out of the three that we had on offer this year. Just like the others, though, these adaptations will always have a lot to live up to and it’s almost impossible for them to be acclaimed by those of us who grew up with the original classics. For new audiences, however, I think this is a decent effort.
The performances from Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott are both brilliant and for such uncommon actors, they do a phenomenal job of leading this summer blockbuster. Their musical performances, especially, are pitch-perfect. Even Will Smith is quite likeable, despite having the difficult job of trying to differentiate his style of humour to Robin Williams’ who voiced the animated genie. It is Marwan Kenzari‘s Jafar that stands out for me, though, whilst Nasim Pedrad also adds a lot of humour as an additional character to the story.
The story itself is told well and sticks closely to its original source. And, unlike this year’s The Lion King and Dumbo, I rather liked the additions to the story, as well. With more of a focus on Princess Jasmine and a timely message of how women shouldn’t be silenced by men in power, there’s an added relevance to today’s audience, giving young girls a heroine to look up to rather than just an outspoken princess. The extra songs are well-fitting, too, so the alterations weren’t something that annoyed me this time around.
However, coming from Guy Ritchie (and as a fan of his lesser successful films such as Sherlock Holmes and King Arthur), I expected more of an edge to it. I also felt that some of the choreography felt out of sync which is something that Ritchie usually gets spot-on. His films are often over-stylised but always sleek and on-point, whereas I feel Aladdin doesn’t quite have the same attention to detail at times.
It may not have the magic or lustre of the original animation, but it is an enjoyable and colourful musical full of pizzaz that I think younger audiences will really enjoy. It’s certainly one of the better live-action adaptations so far, at least, although that doesn’t necessarily say a lot.
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