Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry & hopes his writings will help launch his careers.
What I thought would turn out to be a terrible remake proved to actually be supremely magical. Almost everything was perfect, save for a few minor details. Before we dive into the review, I need to make one thing clear: while I will be comparing a few things from this film to the 1992 animation, I will not be stating one is better than the other. Each is their own film and viewers should not feel the need to pick one over the other. It is possible to enjoy them both as separate entities. Now, onward!
We all know the general story, right? Aladdin, a "street rat" and thief by desperation, meets the Princess Jasmine and falls in love with her. Hey, when you know you know. Jafar tricks Aladdin into going into the Cave of Wonders and retrieving a magic lamp by promising him riches that will impress Jasmine. Aladdin accidentally awakens the Genie and is given three wishes. Will he win Jasmine's heart or will he get caught up in the power of the lamp?
Instead of putting it off until later, let's start with what you're really here for - how was Will Smith as the Genie? The clips and trailers did not do him justice. He was outstanding. You could tell he was really trying to keep the magic alive that Robin Williams invented back in the 90s. His voice and charisma carried Arabian Nights and Friend Like Me very well, however, I feel he fell short during Prince Ali. Outside of the singing, Will was splendid and funny in all the best ways.
Mena Massoud performed well as Aladdin but wasn't given the room he needed to sing with his own voice. For some reason, Disney has a fixation on using AutoTune and it showed in the worst ways. It was so heavy on Mena in One Jump Ahead that you could almost hear the synthesizers humming. Thankfully, it calmed down after that. Naomi Scott was the perfect Jasmine, from her look to her attitude and her voice. Major props for her performance of Speechless, an original song written specifically for her character.
A lot of people had issues with Marwan Kenzari being Jafar because of his high voice. People wanted him to be growly and obviously evil just like the animation. I feel, however, that the direction Disney went with the character was actually brilliant. Actions speak louder than words, as they say, and that was definitely true with this depiction. He seemed kind in his voice and didn't rely on his staff as much. That makes sense as to how he rose so high in the ranks until he was the Sultan's adviser. Navid Negahban was perfect as the Sultan. If you remember in the animation, the Sultan was a bumbling idiot and easily manipulated. Once again, Disney went with a different approach this time around that actually worked a lot better. Sultan was a smart, political man. That made Jafar that much more evil because he wasn't overpowering an idiot, he was overpowering a wise man.
The last thing I want to point out is that the rules for the lamp were different and made less sense. Recall the scene in '92 how Aladdin escaped the cave? He taunted the Genie which prompted him to save Aladdin. Aladdin later pointed out that he never actually wished to get out, Genie did that on his own. In the update, Genie says that the lamp must be rubbed first then the wish stated. That includes when the Genie is already out of the lamp, which made zero sense to me. So, Aladdin did wish to leave the cave, however, he didn't rub the lamp first. The change seemed horribly silly, especially considering even folklore states that if you wish it, the genie grants it regardless.
In conclusion, I highly recommend you see the film. The music and charisma is absolutely contagious, the sets alive and gorgeous, and the film as a whole entirely respectful. I give it a 3 out of 4.
© 2019 Nathan Jasper