In 1992, Ron Clements and John Musker brought together Aladdin, which is now regarded as one of Disney’s most iconic movies and at the time was the highest grossing animated film of all time, until The Lion King two years later. In the recent streak of live action remakes of classic animated films, it’s no surprise that Aladdin was next to be made for a new generation. Now that this new movie is released, can it be compared to the original or can it stand on its own legs?
In the city of Agrabah, Aladdin (Mena Massoud) steals for survival with his accomplice, Abu the monkey, but has a heart of gold. His life takes a massive change as he meets and falls in love with Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), who wants more out of life than being kept in the palace and having to marry a prince from another country to form an alliance. Aladdin gets the attention of Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), the Sultan’s advisor, who convinces him to retrieve a lamp from the Cave of Wonders for his own plans to rule Agrabah. To Aladdin’s surprise, the lamp houses an all-powerful Genie (Will Smith) that offers him three wishes.
In terms of comparing it to the original film, Aladdin (2019) follows the story very closely almost beat for beat. This can be seen as derivative as it doesn’t quite make the movie different enough, but the 2019 adaptation does bring in some new elements and characters that make it different enough without just relying on the original story. All the classic songs are in the movie as well as a couple of new songs that manage to fit into the story quite well. One Step Ahead, Friend like Me and A Whole New World are definitely some of the best songs and sequences of the movie. Director Guy Richie does bring great energy to the musical sequences and the film has a vibrant production. Massoud and Scott manage to bring Aladdin and Jasmine to life really well without feeling like they are just impersonating the original actors. However, the weakest aspect is Jafar. While Kenzari’s performance was good, he is nowhere near as intimidating or memorable as the original character.
Now for the most “controversial” part of the movie; Will Smith as Genie. It’s no secret that people were heavily against his casting in the role, especially since Robin Williams is what made Genie such an iconic character with his amazing improvisation and influencing the directors to mould the character into what he is known best as. It also didn’t help that the trailers for the new movie created such a huge backlash towards Will Smith’s Genie design. But after seeing the movie… Will Smith turned out to be one of the best parts of Aladdin (2019). He manages to both pay homage to Robin William’s portrayal and use his own charisma and humour to make the role his own. The film also humanises Genie by adding a new twist to the character that manages to make him a new interpretation.
Overall, Aladdin (2019) manages to bring to life a classic Disney animated movie while also bringing in enough elements to make its own mark. I would recommend the movie, fans of the original Aladdin should find some enjoyment and nostalgia from the movie.
Rating: ★★★(1/2) out of 5
Aladdin (2019) is in cinemas now.