After the massive success of the live action version of Beauty and the Beast, you knew we would get more Disney classics done in this fashion. The next movie they’re trying to accomplish this with is Aladdin. From the outset, you knew it had everything it needed to replicate what came before it, but as we all know, execution is the key to turning it into the sensation that Disney probably hopes it could be.
We follow a charming street hustler named Aladdin (Mena Massoud) whose life changes once he runs into the beautiful and determined Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) one day. Their meeting sets off a series of events that will see the young man do anything he can to win the heart of the princess with an overbearing father. All he has to do is avoid life-threatening danger, get in her good graces, and adhere to the sage wisdom given to him by a Genie (Will Smith) he just became acquainted with.
Aladdin doesn’t have the all-star cast that the live action versions Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book (the voiceover work specifically) had, but it does feature a big name in Will Smith who’s starring as the Genie. The other actors aren’t really known for much as of this moment, but that will likely change as this film gets them more exposure than they’ve ever had.
Out of all the unfamiliar faces, the one you’ll be seeing the most of in the future is Naomi Scott. She stars as Princess Jasmine here and stands out more than the others. It’s not necessarily because she’s spectacular or anything, but she’s the most consistent out of the bunch. Based on her appearance, her presence, and her personality, I can see her being a legitimate star if she continues to fine-tune her craft and avoid controversy.
When compared to someone like Mena Massoud, she doesn’t have as much to play with as far as her character’s depth and range. He and Marwan Kenzari (who plays Jafar) were a little wooden at times even though they had the chance to play characters with a lot more range and diversity. Although many in the general public won’t have much of an issue with this, I’m looking at it in terms of their career prospects.
This was an opportunity that both failed to capitalize on since Hollywood appears to have a growing focus on being more inclusive. Both actors had a chance to really dig deeper into their characters and provide more personality since they’re portraying people with a constant need to shift due to the changing circumstances they’re constantly facing. However, because they didn’t/couldn’t do that, it prevented them from really owning their roles and standing out more.
While none of the other lesser known actors had to do as much as those two, some of them proved to be capable in their positions. Like Scott, they fit their roles quite nicely. They don’t always add to what we’re getting, but they don’t hurt the film either. The only other person who actually helps under these circumstances is Nasim Pedrad. The rest are kind of just there and are serviceable.
Being the star and the name that’s helping to sell this, Will Smith ended up not being as bad as I thought he could have been. It took some time to get used to him as the Genie, but he grows into the role as everything moves forward. For the most part, he’s at his best when he looks like Will Smith and isn’t that blue CGI thing. His interactions with Massoud are pretty good and they have some nice chemistry between them whenever he looks like his actual self.
The action sequences are usually fun and prove to be a saving grace in many instances. Even though it takes it’s time getting into certain aspects of the story, these scenes assist in making a slow-moving movie seem faster than it actually is. Because of that, it’s also more engaging than usual for something with a pace that might be considered too slow for some.
Even though I don’t tend to care for this stuff, I have to acknowledge that the musical numbers work sometimes as well. They manage to whiff on a few instances, but there are periods when what we get flows like you would hope they would. These scenes are really at their best when the dance numbers are added. I didn’t think I’d be saying that, but these moments are some of the better parts of Aladdin.
There’s a period where you’re able to feel Aladdin dragging on a bit due to the movie being too long. At some point, you kind of realize that some of what we’re getting is just filler to extend the run time. This was a foolish way to approach things since the final act is clearly being rushed through and has so many moving parts that could have been expanded on.
Eliminating the pointless scenes and expanding on everything that they’re stuffing into the end of the movie could have made this far more enjoyable even if the acting isn’t all that strong. There’s enough here to make this into a well-balanced movie since it also has a good energy about it throughout. And while I don’t see Aladdin as being horrible, I look at this as a missed opportunity to be the kind of movie that provides long-lasting memories.
Children and people with kids will more than likely have a deep appreciation for this version of Aladdin. As a film, it’s not great, but it does have some positive features. I’m guessing it will be the type of movie that will get a very good response from its target audience now. When they get older, however, they’ll likely realize that it isn’t all that great for many of the reasons that I pointed out.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Film Length: 128 minutes
Release Date: May 24th, 2019
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
- Score - 5/105/10