Disney returns once again to their cave of wonders to bring another classic animated feature to life in the form of “Aladdin”. The previous film, and in particular the performance of Robin Williams, cast a massive shadow on any potential new take, but for the most part Disney have stuck on the safe side and focused on what made the original so good, but have made a few tweaks just to flesh out the characters a bit, and in particular give Jasmine something a bit more substantial to do, especially in the third act.
In the in unenviable role of the Genie, Will Smith doesn’t try to copy what Robin Williams did, and leans into his more charming aspects that we have seen in films like “Hitch”, as he plays the Genie as more of a matchmaker. He has a tough ask in that he has to sing three songs, and while it’s pretty obvious he’s gotten some studio assistance with “Arabian Nights”, he does a good job with “Never Had a Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali”. Mena Massoud plays Aladdin pretty much the same as the animated version, but it’s Naomi Scott as Jasmine who really stands out. The character is given more to do, she gets her own song (“Speechless”) and has notions about becoming the Sultan herself, rather than just marry a prince and hand her kingdom over. Scott’s Jasmine is a strong character who is proactive in her actions, and thankfully doesn’t get locked into an hourglass for the last twenty minutes of the film.
While the film does feel a bit stagey at times, the musical numbers really pop with colour and excitement, the costumes look amazing and the live action sets are very impressive. The four CGI characters in Abu (the monkey), Raja (the tiger), Iago (the parrot) and the Magic Carpet (the carpet) are all rendered really well and each has their moment to shine.
All in all, this new take on “Aladdin” is a fun, family-friendly adventure that should please fans of the Disney classic, as well as those who've never seen the original.
These are the talented and critical words of our man Kevin Dillon, @kevinwritestuff.
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