On May 24th, ALADDIN lovers will see a whole new world when they go back to Agrabah in this live-action remake of Disney’s classic animated film, ALADDIN. A spoiler-free review of a remake might seem silly, but this is not a scene by scene remake and the new elements elevate the story brilliantly.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the original animated movie, I’ll give a brief synopsis. ALADDIN is the story of a homeless orphan who lives by his wits in the streets of Agrabah. By chance, he meets Jasmine, the princess of Agrabah, who has escaped the palace in disguise in an attempt to see her town and her people. Meanwhile, back at the palace, the vizier, Jafar, is scheming to use his magical powers to become sultan, in place of Jasmine’s father. Jafar is convinced that there is a genie trapped in an oil lamp in the Cave of Wonders and he just needs to find the right person to retrieve the lamp. He is clearly not pure-of-heart enough to retrieve it himself. Good-natured thief, Aladdin, is the “diamond in the rough” who can take the lamp, but ends up releasing the genie himself. Genie helps Aladdin become worthy of Jasmine’s attention and overcome Jafar’s machinations against the sultanate.
The live-action story deviates at several points from the animated movie, but sticks to the overall story. The major highlights of the animated film are brought to glorious life in this film, especially the “Prince Ali” and “A Whole New World” musical numbers. There is also a new song for Jasmine, which really brings out the strength of her character. The dancing is spectacular! Every dance scene really shows the skills of the choreographers (Leah Hill and Jamal Sims) who create the routines and of the dancers, especially the scene when Prince Ali joins a dance at the palace.
There are only three singing parts in ALADDIN: Aladdin, Genie, and Jasmine. Because of his popular music background, Will Smith (Genie) has a different caliber of singing voice than Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott (Aladdin and Jasmine, respectively) , but, boy, can he sell a song! Rather than doing Robin Williams playing Genie, Smith makes the Genie his own. Smith’s Genie is a wish-granter and a mentor, guiding Aladdin to find his own path to Jasmine’s heart, rather than relying on the pomp and circumstance of princehood. He’s funny, of course, but the emphasis was on humor, rather than hilarity.
Massoud and Scott, relative newcomers, play their roles well, demonstrating strength and softness in the parts, rather than one-dimensional caricatures. The love story is also portrayed in an interesting way. Rather than being attracted to Jasmine’s beauty, he’s drawn to her kindness and character. There aren’t sparks, but genuine affection and love clearly grows. Jafar and the Sultan don’t have quite the same character development. Their characters are less-rounded and more cartoonish. Marwan Kanzari (Jafar) and Navid Neghaban (the Sultan) brought their considerable acting talents to their roles, stretching the almost flatness of the parts. Billy Magnussen (Prince Anders) steals every scene he’s in, and Nasim Pedrad (Dalia) plays Jasmine’s favored hand maiden with just the right touch of humor.
Zayn (One Direction) and Zhavia Ward (finalist on Season 1 of The Four) sing “A Whole New World” over the ending credits. Speaking of the end credits, I always stay through to the end, but if you’re the type who stays just to see if there’s a final scene, I’ll save you some time. There isn’t.
Guy Ritchie’s ALADDIN is a wonderful movie. Agrabah is beautiful; the story is modernized, but within the bounds of the original; and the big scenes are even bigger, which I wouldn’t have thought possible, going from animation to live-action, even with CGI. It’s family friendly and even date-night worthy. All ages can appreciate and enjoy this new rendition of ALADDIN. For more family friendly movie news, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on instagram, twitter and “like” our facebook page too.