Movies for Breakfast ALADDIN Review
Disney is at it again with another live action adaptation of a popular animated film from their library.
A kind-hearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true.
From the magical world of Disney comes a new live action adaptation of one of their beloved children’s films, Aladdin. Written and directed by Guy Ritchie, with some help from John August on the screenplay, Aladdin stays faithful to the original material in both good and bad ways. The film’s most prominent star is Will Smith as The Genie, with Mena Massoud being a new actor playing the role of Aladdin. Joining him are Naomi Scott as Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, and Nasim Pedrad as Dalia, a new character who is the handmaiden to Princess Jasmine. This film also had the pleasure of the original songwriter and composer of the animated Aladdin movie returning for this live action adaptation.
Let us jump into what is possibly the biggest criticism the film has from the start, the genie. In the original animated version of the film, the genie is an obvious fan favorite character played by Robin Williams. With a live action remake, someone else would need to fill those shoes and that person is Will Smith. When first announced there was a lot of confusion and many people being cautious on the choice. Then when the first teaser trailer released showing the genie for the first time, there was a lot of opposition thrown in Disney’s direction over the new CGI look of the genie. In the final film though, he is not as bad as originally perceived in the trailer. In the beginning of the movie during his introductory song, the feeling of Robin Williams’s genie is in full effect. It seems like Will Smith might be able to pull off this role after-all. Sadly, though it is a downward slope from there, and the original songs by Robin Williams have more life than the Will Smith renditions of the songs. While he is not bad as the genie, he just comes off as boring after his initial introduction.
Aladdin is a film I grew up watching, so when they initially announced the live action remake I was a little hesitant. I became especially hesitant when the film was announced to be just over two hours long when the original was only an hour and a half. This meant there was an addition 33% of story being added to this film that was not present in the original, or the film would be very slowly paced. Sadly, in the final film, it is a mix of both. There are scenes that are stretched out, new plot points added in revolving around the Genie and a love interest with Jasmines handmaiden, and a strange pace that follows the film around. Aladdin hits all the notes of the original animated movie, but seems to do so only because the original did. Instead of doing an adaptation, they crammed scenes and moments into this movie that almost feel out of place, and even some new moments that feel out of place. Scenes also lose tension when there is a constant usage of slow motion that is jarring in almost every scene it is used. The writing and directing almost seem disjointed at times, even though Guy Ritchie was involved in both stages. While the original was fast paced and there were some leaps of faith made in terms of character development, here the movie is paced much slower but those same leaps of faith occur.
One character that gets hurt the most in the new story elements of the film is Jasmine. While Naomi Scott plays the role perfectly, and does bring the character to life, the writing she had to work with flips her character around in all kinds of directions. Jasmine in this film is more independent than the original film, as such she wants to be the sultan herself instead of being married to a prince from another country. To counter this the film throws idiotic princes at her that she has to deny, princes that are so incredibly idiotic that there is no way the Sultan in this movie would want them to have any control over hid kingdom. When Aladdin shows up though, even though he is cloaked by genie magic, she seems to have a different tone with him than the other princes, and after only talking to him as a prince for a 3rd time she is singing how they will travel the world together. She then becomes ok with marrying Aladdin when she finds out it is really him, and finds out that he has been lying to her about everything she is. It is almost insulting how much of a leap her character takes, and not even like she develops as she even admits she just want to believe everything he says.
There are some good aspects of this film though, mainly with the acting, which is on point for nearly every characters. Will Smith does play an ok genie, and keeping Robin Williams out of mind, he does the role fairly well. Mena Massoud as Aladdin is the perfect casting, as he does bring the character to life from the animated movie, both in look and personality. Then Naomi Scott does play Jasmine very well, outside of the terrible writing that surrounds her I mentioned above. There is one miscast opportunity with Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, as he does not come off nearly as menacing or manipulative as his animated counterpart. Aside from him though the casting choices made for this film are pretty spot on. The choreography with these characters also helps with their performances, as scenes involving the Bollywood style of dance give people like Mena Massoud a chance to shine. The scenes that are good, are really good, but they are very diamond in the rough and show only occasionally. Like I said before the beginning of the film shows a lot of promise, it is up until Aladdin turns into Prince Ali that the film seems to take a turn. It might be that the magic of the movie wore off, or due to all the flipping that the story has to make with Jasmines character that throws it off from that point, but it never seems to recover.
Aladdin is a hard movie to suggest to people, while there are parts that are enjoyable, they are surrounded by a lot of pointless and slow paced scenes, and jokes that do not land. I am sure it will find its fan base, but as someone who grew up with the original animated movie I would prefer to just watch that one. The choreography and acting are the only strings holding this film up, with the writing and pace being boulders trying to sink it. Going into the movie I expected the genie to be one of the parts I would come out hating the most, but for the most part he was not as bad as I presumed he would be. For families and fans of the new live action Disney movies, there is a chance you will enjoy this movie the same as the previous ones. For everyone else though, it might be worth waiting for a home or streaming release before giving this movie a viewing.