Aladdin movie is nowhere close to the original animated version, but it isn’t that bad either. You are kind of left with mixed feelings because it has its moments even though it fails to blow you away. The first feeling that’s really prominent is that of nostalgia. As the movie begins, you are hit with that grand opening song that you used to love so much growing up. It literally gives you goosebumps provided you were at one point a fan of the original, and the animated series thereafter. It is hard not to sing your lungs out as it plays –
“Arabian nights! Arabian days!”
Aladdin live-action movie is more or less very similar to the plot of the 1992 animated film. So it is basically the same movie just performed by real actors. There are some bits that are toyed around with, which seem totally fine, to be honest. Some of the changes done here end up being good. Like Jasmine spewing her heart out, not staying silent obverse to her original character.
The movie is nothing like the animated version primarily because there were so many things in the original that the content here feels kind of less powerful. Somewhere deep down you have to agree to the unequivocal fact that originals are always the best.
The Direction of Movie Aladdin
Guy Ritchie, the director of amazing movies like The Man from U. N. C. L. E. and King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword, walks in with what seems like a sure shot success owing to the sheer popularity of the animated movie. I am pretty sure the movie will go on to become a box office hit, ergo becoming successful in what it had initially set out for. Guy trying to play it safe, doing a surefire investment, trying to make amends after the wreckage that he had found himself in, owing to his last movie – King Arthur.
In doing so, the Ritchie we know, doesn’t experiment with literally anything in the movie. The direction of Aladdin seems pretty fair and simple so much that it doesn’t feel like a Guy Ritchie movie at all, the guy who used to experiment with his shots. Everything feels pretty plain as if Disney brainwashed him into creating a pretty basic movie without all the editorial and ornamented theatrics that he is generally so fond of.
That being said, plain is good too. However, it isn’t great. In not being himself, Ritchie ends up paying a cost. There are some scenes that are exciting to watch though. Like the initial scenes of Agrabah where the camera moves through the city toward the palace. It has been shot beautifully almost how the title card used to play in the animated version.
The Cast and the Acting in Aladdin
You can feel the absence of gut-wrenching intensity in the actors who portray the characters in the Aladdin movie. For instance, Aladdin portrayed by Mena Massoud feels very bland, although he has the looks that seem quite befitting for the character of Ali. The real tension, that’s supposed to be there in situations that demand them, are missing in his eyes. Love feels forced. His demeanour, his mannerism seems contrived. They are also very far away from profundity. It is not something you would take back home. Not cherishable!
Au contraire, the role of Jasmine done by Naomi Scott is the exact opposite. She is probably one of the best things about the movie. A character you would remember for a really long time. Not only is she insanely gorgeous, which kind of does the character of the princess justice per se, but she is also a superlative singer who uses her beautiful voice to ensure she is remembered not only for her acting prowess but also for her singing. Naomi packs in a powerpack performance particularly at one point when all seems lost. Her performance of “Speechless” is by far the best you would ever see. It’s literally brimming with energy.
We can’t move on without addressing the elephant in the room – Genie. There was a huge gap to fill already, to be honest, when you look at what Robin Williams had done to Genie. Shoes hard to fill, but Will, Will Smith brings his own style to the table. It doesn’t come anywhere close to Robin’s genie, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. Will’s genie still exists in its very own universe.
He has his own flair. Smith imparts Genie his own touch and that makes it quite entertaining to watch. If only the jests and the humour were a tad funnier, you wouldn’t be even complaining about the shoes.
Disney movies have drifted a lot towards being musical lately. Aladdin movie isn’t any different. All the singing and the dancing keeps the movie from latching on any serious gravitas. But luckily we have Jafar here, played by Marwan Kenzari who wades us away from such moments doing all the devilry like a true villain. But if you really look at it, everything feels safe. It is a Disney movie, for crying out loud, what do you expect?
In your head, if you try to play it, a darker version of Aladdin movie somehow would have felt justified, something that all the characters of Aladdin badly need in today’s generation where people crave for gore and more seriousness, for instance, a badass villain like The Joker who isn’t afraid to turn our worse nightmares into reality. Jafar ends up being insipid and less affecting. Disney always plays it safe. They can’t or won’t try to change anything in their live-action movies.
Goes without saying, that the CGI on Genie is a tad bothering. All this technology today and we still fail to leverage it properly. I think, if proper time was given, the VFX team could have done a better job. Will Smith’s head feels badly fixated to his animated contour. You can easily tell it apart. If if it were good, you wouldn’t be able to.
There are moments however when visual effects become great. Like at junctures where Jafar uses his magic every now and then, and when Iago turns into a big bird to retrieve Genie’s lamp. Or like the occasional scenic views of Agrabah that literally shake you off your seat. On such moments, the team literally boggles your mind, and you realize it isn’t that bad after all.
You can order Aladdin movie from here:
The Final Verdict
Overall the movie is good. It is nowhere close to the animated version, yes, which was beyond fantastic. Robin Williams has set a standard hard to beat or meet. However, this one ends up being a fine entertainer too.
You can check out the trailer of Aladdin movie here: