Disney has been going strong with the live action remakes of classic animated films, and they’ve been hit or miss – both with the public and myself. While I loved Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, I hated Maleficent and Dumbo. Aladdin had faced a fair bit of criticism before release, both due to Will Smith as the genie and some cultural concerns. So what did I think of the movie?
I really enjoyed it! While the animated film is certainly superior, I liked this version a lot and was really happy with it. It stays pretty true to the original while making a few changes, the majority of which I was pleased with.
First and foremost, I think people need to stop hating on Will Smith. I found him to be a great genie! His sense of humor and personality is very different from Robin Williams which I thought was a good thing – we don’t need a copycat. They kept a couple of the iconic lines but added a lot of new material as well. It was still extremely funny – the scene where Aladdin first meets Jasmine as “Prince Ali” had me laughing a ton.
Smith is a good singer and I liked his version of Arabian Nights and even Prince Ali. I do wish they had changed Friend Like Me more though. It’s not the right style of song for him and they kept it identical to the original. I think they could have changed the song more and used Smith’s strengths to their advantage – but I’m sure Disney was scared about changing such an iconic song. There is actually a version of Friend Like Me that plays over the credits by Smith and DJ Khaled which is a rap/hip-hop version. I do understand why they didn’t use it in the film because I think Disney purists would not have enjoyed it. But that version is definitely VERY Will Smith.
I loved almost all of the other performances in the movie too – both singing and acting. Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine is just wonderful. She is given the one new song of the film, called “Speechless,” written by Alan Menken. It’s a gorgeous song and her voice absolutely soars. She portrays a powerful Jasmine with ambition and determination.
Mena Moussad plays a good Aladdin, with boyish charm and a great voice himself. Nasim Pedrad plays a new character, Dalia, handmaiden to Princess Jasmine. I really liked the addition of her character – she was funny and strangely charming. The only one I wasn’t super thrilled with was Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. He was not creepy enough – maybe too handsome, or too young for the character. He didn’t stand out as a villain.
The subtle changes in the plot were mostly good additions. I liked Jasmine’s more ambitious character – in 1992 it was daring of her to want to marry for love rather than position, but in 2019 she wants to be sultan herself and run the kingdom. Giving her a friend in Dalia is also a nice addition and gives her someone to play off of. Jafar has a brief backstory that explains a bit more where his villainy comes from. The only thing I could have done without was probably (slight spoiler) the “Iago being turned into a gigantic monster parrot chasing them around Agrabah” scene. I guess it added a little more excitement?
I also thought the movie was visually stunning. The costumes are absolutely gorgeous, with vibrant colors. There are a number of dance scenes added in which I loved. The cast has some incredible dancers and the combination of the music, dance, and costumes made those some of my absolute favorite parts.
I know that the critics aren’t giving this movie good reviews, but I say give it a chance. I liked it much more than I expected to and would certainly watch it again. But you know, haters gonna hate.
Have you seen the Aladdin live action? What did you think of it?