Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott , Marwan Kenzari
Production: Walt Disney Pictures
Geek Rate: Sky god worthy (5 out of 5 stars)
As a kid, you read Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves unless you prefer The Tale of the Three Brothers, and watch in awe as a story based on it was shown in a movie: Disney’s Aladdin.
Based on the Ali Baba’s tale, the Disney story is about Aladdin himself, a street rat in the desert city of an Arabian-style kingdom, who discovered a magic lamp in a cave. Three wishes were granted to him, courtesy of the genie in the lamp, and that’s how the audience was captivated all those years ago, by the sheer magic of it all.
It’s the usual Disney style to make a classic animated film and turn it into live action with the single rule of keeping it as close as the original. Aladdin is no exception. So we have three wishes to the genie, to see if this live action film is worth a magic carpet ride.
First wish: The Actors
Will Smith had a big shoes to fill as the genie. His renditions of Friend Like Me and Prince Ali, heck, whenever he sings, it was kind of awkward. But he was funny. The biggest laughs came from the scenes with him on it, especially during Aladdin’s entrance inside the palace with the two listing the types of jam. Mena Massoud’s Aladdin has a chemistry with Smith. Massoud’s portrayal of the beloved street rat is good, if not excellent. While some find Smith as a genie weird, I on the other hand, enjoyed his scenes. Naomi Scott as Prince Jasmine is fit for the role, but this woman empowerment thing is condescending. Simran Hans of The Guardian is right, it is as “condescending as the women-in-battle sequence in Avengers: Endgame.” Dutch actor Marwan Kenzari is an improvement to the usual evil Jafar in the animated movie, but he’s just lacking this Dark Lord persona that the audience clearly craved from him.
Second wish: The Directing Style
Guy Ritchie, what can I say. The shots are all weird. The Bollywood style of this film left me confused, is it Indian or Arabian? My history-obsessed brain is confused. I am not a fan of his Sherlock Holmes movies, his direction style particularly, and the same can be said with this one. The close up scenes, the chase scenes, even the cave scene is completely off, like what are you doing with the camera!
Third wish: The Visuals (and the songs)
The challenge here is in making a well-loved animated film into a live action without destroying the childhood of those who watched the original film. The film successfully combines the elements of the animated film into live action. The genie, though most will disagree, is visually pleasing to the eye, as well as the CGI animals (to critics: leave the monkey alone). I was disappointed though with the magic carpet ride scene, you know what I’m talking about, the with the A Whole New World scene. It feels like watching Star Wars IV: A New Hope. No offense, but what is this, 1970’s? There was simply no magic in it. The green-screen placeholders failed to do its trick. Though thankfully, they did not used Zayn Malik’s version of the song, because it’s dreadful.
Well genie, it is a satisfactory film, full of nostalgic scenes that will satisfy the fans, but the important thing is that the live-action film never lose the humor of the original one, and the magic is there, plus some cool dance scenes. This is definitely what we wished for. Now, make me a prince.