Movie Review: Aladdin

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aladdin poster.jpg

2star

PG |

Director: Guy Ritchie

by Jason Koenigsberg

Another critic described Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin as “cinematic karaoke” and that is without a doubt the best way to describe this remake. It serves no purpose other than to make money and feels less real than the 1992 animated version. 

The opening shot right after the Disney logo is of a ship at sea, immediately making the viewer think they walked into a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Will Smith is on a smaller boat behind it and starts telling the story of Aladdin. From this point on what you expect is exactly what you will get. They add in a few original songs, stretch the running time to two hours and eight minutes, and of course, make Jasmine a stronger Disney princess to keep up with the fact that we are in 2019. But other than that, Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin is a basic unimaginative retelling of the version kids grew up with during the ’90s. 

This Aladdin is not an entire lost cause. It was very nice to see actors of Middle-Eastern and Indian descent make up the majority of the cast in all of the lead and supporting roles other than Will Smith as the Genie. The sets and costumes were all filled with bright colors and meticulous designs and could end up taking home some of awards and nominations at the end of the year. Plus the themes of being yourself and being happy and confident with who you are, remain universal and this Aladdin handles them as well if as the original adding to the human element by using real actors. But that was about it. 

The actors in the lead roles were better singers during their musical numbers than they were as actors performing their roles. That may be due to the direction from Guy Ritchie than their actual abilities. Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi Scott as Jasmine were both serviceable enough that I would like to see them have major roles in other movies. Will Smith, the only real “star” in Aladdin and he was credited first never really makes the Genie his own character. He adds some new lines but also repeats a lot of the same dialogue Robin Williams said in the 1992 film. He never really steps out from Robin Williams’ shadow in this role. Will Smith is talented and very charismatic so he could have made the character his own but most likely because of the screenplay limitations and the lack of vision from director Guy Ritchie, he never really emerges as a strong character. Which brings up the point, how did Ritchie get involved in this movie in the first place? How did the man who directed Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000) end up directing a huge mega-budget Disney production after his last film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) was one of the biggest bombs of the summer two years ago? I guess one never knows where their career can take them, but from the looks of it, Guy Ritchie and Disney are going to be doing a lot of celebrating raking in the big bucks this Memorial Day weekend. Also, this film did injustice to another character from the original, Abu, Aladdin’s monkey pal was a poor looking CGI abomination. A real monkey would have made all of his scenes a lot funnier

What Disney should do if they are this desperate for ideas and want to make money is remake their flawed, lesser-known films and not their masterpieces. A remake of Oliver & Company (1988), The Black Cauldron (1985), or The Sword and the Stone (1963) might be welcome additions to the Disney catalog and improve on those movies imperfections while introducing new audiences to those films. This is just another tired example of audiences not demanding anything unique or challenging from their entertainment and the studios delivering exactly what they think people want. I guess people like karaoke so Disney gave audiences movie karaoke. 

Skip this live-action remake and just watch the animated classic Aladdin that you already know and love.

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