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Film Review: Aladdin (2019)

Aladdin (2019) is the latest live action remake from Walt Disney based on the animated classic in 1992. Directed by Guy Ritchie, this film stars Mena Massoud as Aladdin, who lives on the street and finds a magic lamp which could be his way of getting princess Jasmine (played by Naomi Scott). This film also stars Will Smith as the Genie, who comes along the journey to help Aladdin get the girl of his dreams.

Aladdin (2019) – source: Walt Disney Studios
I know many people were hesitant about this remake, particularly when the first trailer dropped and we were introduced to the Genie. However, when shown on the big screen with full context of the style of the film, the Genie works great. What made the Genie shine in the original film was Robin William’s personality, and Will Smith brings his own personality to the role whilst still giving homage to the legacy of Robin Williams. Will Smith livens up any performance he is in and adds his own charisma to the character, and I particularly like the direction that they took the Genie in this remake.
However, the star for me in this film is Naomi Scott in the role of Jasmine. This is my introduction to her as an actress and performer but she is destined to go far after this film. Her voice is absolutely phenomenal, and it is still rare at this point to find someone who is both strong vocally and in the acting department like her. I also found the direction of Jasmine to be way more powerful than done in the original film, and her new solo song Speechless is calling for an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.
I also loved the general direction of the film. This film is colourful and very much resembles a Bollywood style of filmmaking from the huge sets and large performances. This not only made sense for this sort of film and location, but also felt like an homage to that region of the world and the joy that sort of filmmaking brings to people. This added a sense of joy to the film that felt more natural, rather than just being a traditional Hollywood blockbuster.
Aladdin (2019) – source: Walt Disney Studios
This film is a story of two parts for me, and it does take a while to get into the spectacle of the film. The opening is quite weak to me, and it does take a while to find it’s feet and direction. One Jump Ahead was quite shaky as a musical piece and I was not sure what tone the film was going to head in at the start. However, once we get to the palace in Agrabah, the film picks up and knows exactly what it wants to communicate. When the Genie appears, that is when the film knows its onto a success.
Some performances though were shaky, and unfortunately one of them comes from the title character. Mena Massoud unfortunately felt like a beginner to me, and it took me a long time for me to warm to him in the lead role. His voice sounds good by itself, but the level of talent between Naomi and Mena is clear cut and makes him sound weaker than he actually is. He definitely has potential, especially with characters such like Aladdin, but I do not think at this time he was the best choice for the lead role.
I was also quite disappointed with how they approached Jafar in this film. I was not expecting this brooding, menacing villain like from the original film. Marwan Kenzari does a good performance for what his character offered, and I understand the direction that they went for. However, he feels quite forgettable and is pushed further back than I hoped from him. I wanted to see him have power for longer and truly understand his full potential, but they did not go down that route unfortunately.
Aladdin (2019) – source: Walt Disney Studios
I was hesitant at the start of the film, but by the end I actually enjoyed Aladdin. Whilst the original will remain one of the best Disney films of all time, I was genuinely pleased with how they treated this live action remake. This is a crowd-pleasing film and I would recommend checking it out.


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