The trend of Disney remaking their animated classics continues with the live-action rendition of Aladdin, so is it any good?
In a nutshell, yes, it’s fine. It’s harmless family fun, with excellent production values and some fantastic moments, it doesn’t quite live up to the magic of the original, and there are some flaws that I’ll get in to, but I came away from this film satisfied and entertained, and I couldn’t really ask for much more than that!
Aladdin follows the same beats as the 1992 animated film, with a few tweaks here and there to bring it to the modern age, it all works well enough and it felt more true to the source material than Dumbo did earlier this year. However, one thing that was apparent was that the film was trying to flesh out a story that didn’t need fleshing out to increase the runtime, which led to the film dragging in places and feeling quite dull at times. It comes in at a hefty 130 minutes, which is a decent amount of time for any film, but it seems excessive for a Disney film, especially when the 1992 original was nearly 40 minutes shorter, I didn’t find much justification for the extra minutes here and one of my first observations after leaving the cinema was that I felt as if they could have cut down the runtime considerably and I wouldn’t have felt like anything was missing, it ticked the necessary boxes and a lot of the extra stuff just felt like pointless filler, to the extent that I am struggling to actually pinpoint what exactly was added and how it was relevant.
This is forgivable, however, mainly thanks to the excellent main trio in this film. Mena Massoud is great as Aladdin and does a great job of making him a loveable protagonist, Naomi Scott is incredible as Princess Jasmine and after watching it it’s hard to imagine a more perfect casting for this character. But, the star of the show, is Will Smith as The Genie. Understandably, there were a lot of skeptics who were unsure of this casting and whether or not he could live up to Robin William’s iconic rendition of the character, but I’m glad to say that Will Smith proves all the doubters wrong, and he really makes The Genie his own and delivers a brilliantly entertaining performance that no doubt Williams would have been proud of. His performance is so good, that you’ll find yourself wanting more of The Genie every time he’s not on screen, his chemistry with Aladdin is great and their moments together were often the highlights of the film. Looking back at Will Smith’s work as of late, I think I can safely say that The Genie is his best work in a long time.
Unfortunately, the villain suffers in this film and Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) is simply just nowhere near as menacing as his animated counterpart. He’s a very one-dimensional, dull villain who lacks the gravitas to be perceived as a real threat. Even as his power grows and he becomes increasingly evil, he just doesn’t come across like much of a villain. It’s disappointing when you consider how good the animated Jafar was, and it certainly seems like a missed opportunity here, I personally feel like he was miscast and an older actor should have taken on the role. Kenzari just seemed to lack something and the result is one of the more forgettable movie villains in recent times.
Everything else is fine though, the film looks gorgeous, it’s extremely colourful and full of life, making the world a wonder to look at, the songs are all great and executed brilliantly, and for the most-part, it’s just excellent fun.
This is a perfectly fine family film that everyone can enjoy, it’s a bit hit and miss in places and I still think it didn’t need to be as long as it was, but it didn’t stifle my overall enjoyment too much. I would happily watch this again, and I think it’s one of the better live-action reimaginings that Disney has done.
I give Aladdin a 7/10.