A street urchin with a heart of gold finds a magic lamp with a
wish-granting genie who helps him win the heart of a princess.
Directed by Guy Ritchie
Written by John August and Guy Ritchie
Starring Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott,
Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad,
Frank Welker, Alan Tudyk, Billy Magnussen
Remake of 1992's Aladdin
For me at least, Aladdin was one of the live-action adaptations I was looking forward to the most. It was one of my favorites growing up and after seeing what they did with The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast, I knew it would be magical. Then, the casting of Will Smith as the Genie came out, and it was met with some backlash. How in the world could Smith live up to Robin Williams's timeless performance as the Genie? Simply put, he couldn't. And once I came to terms with that, it was way easier to accept Smith's performance as its own entity. And frankly, he owns the entire movie. The live-action Aladdin is a fun movie that pays homage to the original but doesn't step on any toes.
The cast is all decent, though their singing voices could use some work (except for Naomi Scott's Princess Jasmine. She had some pipes.) The film follows the same plot, but adds a bit more motivation for each of the characters. Jasmine wants to lead her people, Jafar wants to start a war to solidify his power, and Aladdin wants to be better than a street rat. Even the Genie now has not just dreams of freedom, but dreams of having a family. It makes the characters more believable and grounded in reality. My only real issue with the film is the songs, which don't work quite as well in live-action. The timing is off a lot of the time, and they rely a lot on nostalgia to carry on.
Regardless, for the most part, Aladdin is a win for Disney. It may not be getting the warmest critical reception, but I enjoyed it for what it was, and I was pleasantly surprised by Will Smith's turn as the Genie. He was my favorite part of the film, and he brought a new element of smoothness to the character. I hope this one is successful, as I would love a sequel. Hopefully, one based on The Return of Jafar.