Review: ALADDIN (2019)

By Josh Muchly

I’m no fan of the live-action Disney do-overs. But —

The upshot: A live-action version of the animated Disney feature from 1992.

High-point: Will Smith. I’m shocked that I’m saying this, but, yes, Smith brings the magic and spark of life this movie needed. Like many people, I was dismayed at my first glance. I felt reassured in my belief that these live-action remakes were just cash-grabs, and the Genie would be Exhibit A. However, Smith seemed confident that he would bring something worthy to the picture, something unique. I believe he was correct. He is having fun with his involvement, and we can tell. I also like that this version of the Genie wants to be a human, not just “free.” Being a free human is better than being a servant with “phenomenally cosmic powers.” It’s not super deep, but it doesn’t need to be. Well played, Mr. Smith.

Low-point: Iago. Besides the obvious that it wasn’t Gilbert Gottfried behind the mic, there are a few things that went wrong with this character. First, he’s not as funny; second, not as villainous; third, he’s not an adequate substitute for the Jafar-as-Giant-Serpent-Monster that he replaces (Jafar turns him into a giant bird to chase Aladdin). And, further, Alan Tudyk was wasted in the role, in my opinion. A shame. But, on the bright side, making Iago less influential to the plot did force the writers to make some changes, which kept things a bit more interesting.

Rundown: I’m no fan of the live-action Disney do-overs. But, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. I didn’t love it, but I felt the love the filmmakers brought to the project, flawed though it is. I’m a fan of director Guy Ritchie; I like everything he’s directed (except of course that Robin Hood movie). I’m not sure what his motivation was for making ALADDIN, yet it seems like he was truly inspired to be at the helm. The film is probably better for it.

The production design is sufficient to make Agrabah look somewhat authentic; it’s real enough. I also really enjoyed the Bollywood-esque dance number during the credits. Fun stuff!

This film was designed to appeal more towards young girls in the female-leaning more so than boys and the male-leaning (which is fine; I’m observing, not judging.). Males can revisit the cartoon to get the sword-wielding, snake-fighting Aladdin. For this picture, there’s a bigger emphasis on Jasmine. She can be the Sultan at the end, she can be a hero, she can be (and is) Aladdin’s partner in the story. Plus, Jasmine gets a new, empowering song which is cool.

For me, the cartoon is still the preferable avenue to consume Aladdin. It brings me nostalgia and Robin Williams both. That said, I could see how the live-action version could create nostalgia warriors of its own. My sister, as a matter of fact, has already seen this movie three times in theaters since its release and has no plans on keeping it at that number.

Muchly Scale: 4 out of 7

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