Aladdin (2019)

Aladdin (2019)

2019 PG 128 Minutes

Adventure | Fantasy | Romance | Family

A kindhearted street urchin named Aladdin embarks on a magical adventure after finding a lamp that releases a wisecracking genie while a power-hungry Grand Vizier vies for the same lamp that has th...

Overall Rating

7 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • Deadaccount


    5 / 10
    As of today, the new live-action remake of the 1992 Disney film Aladdin is officially in theaters. Directed by Guy Richie and starring Mena Masoud, Naomi Scott, and Will Smith, this retelling of Aladdin brings multiple things to the table that were absent in the original. But one has to wonder if this necessarily means that these things are good. When going to the theater to see this movie with my friend, I wondered beforehand whether or not there was even a purpose in remaking a film as classic as Aladdin. The movie was going to have to make improvements on the flawed aspects of the original. With a running time of 2 hours and 8 minutes, this version has a solid 37 more minutes of content than the original. So, what exactly did they add? Unfortunately, in my opinion, nothing good.

    Don’t lie, you’ve seen Aladdin. I don’t need to waste your time telling you the plot. Thankfully, neither does the movie. It understands its audience and knows that they’re familiar with the story. Instead of dragging out its running time even further, it cuts out simple scenes that aren’t necessary to understanding the story. The two scenes that I’m specifically thinking of here are the first Cave of Wonders scene and the scene where Princess Jasmine escapes the Agraban Palace. While some may feel that this hurts the movie, I would beg to differ. If we’re being honest with ourselves here, this film was never intended to stand on its own, so the decision to cut out these scenes is one that I appreciate, if only so we can get to the good stuff more quickly.

    One of my favorite parts about the original Aladdin is the absolutely incredible score by Alan Menken. It transports you into Agrabah, and only serves to make the world even more fleshed out and real. With so many iconic tracks such as Friend Like Me or A Whole New World, it’s easy to see why it’s so beloved. Unfortunately, aside from Friend Like Me, these songs aren’t done much justice in the remake. Just like the original, this film opens with Arabian Nights. However, in this version, it’s sung by Will Smith. And Will Smith’s vocal performance in this particular song is just bad. There is a lot of very noticeable autotune, not only in this song but in the entire movie. Well, aside from Friend Like Me. This isn’t exclusive to Will Smith, either. Both Masoud and Scott have a similar level of autotune in all of their songs. For a film that rides so heavily on the music, it’s a shame that it’s the weakest part of the remake.

    Considering that music is so important to any version of Aladdin, this film boasts three additional music tracks, as well as most of the ones from the original. One of them is yet another reprise of One Jump, one of them is an original titled Speechless, and the last is just a reprise of Speechless. So, what did I think of the new song? I mean… it’s just fine. There’s nothing particularly special about it. Naomi Scott does a good enough job singing it and she portrays her emotions well. It’s just extremely unmemorable. I heard it for the first time less than two hours ago and I’ve already forgotten the melody. It just doesn’t have the same sticking power as something like Prince Ali, A Whole New World, or really any of the songs from the original.

    Surprisingly, my favorite aspect of the remake was the one that I thought was going to be my least favorite, and that was the Genie. The trailers for this movie were extremely disappointing when it came to the Genie, as they made him look very boring and uninteresting. I kept thinking to myself, “there’s no way that Will Smith is going to be a good replacement for Robin Williams.” And I was right. But he was an amazing Genie in his own right. He was definitely different, but he still worked extremely well. I’ve referred to Friend Like Me a few times at this point as the exception to the music rule, and I can easily say that Will Smith makes that song the best scene in the entire movie. He brings so much of his own charm into it that it’s hard not to love it when you’re watching it. It’s legitimately the only part of the movie that I won’t hesitate to call great.

    While the new interpretation of the Genie worked really well, I can’t say the same for Jafar. I recently did a local community theater production of Aladdin Jr, and I played Jafar. So as an ex-Jafar, I can say that this Jafar is absolutely horrible. He poses no threat and seems like a complete pushover. He’s too young, not ugly enough, and not scary enough. In fact, I would go as far as to say that he doesn’t pose a threat at all. Even in the climax of the film, when he turns into a sorcerer, he really only does four things. He basically Thanos snaps Rajah, he summons some grey clouds, and he makes Iago big. And of course, he banishes Aladdin to the other end of the world. He isn’t scary at all. In the original, he overpowered Aladdin at every turn, while here he just sort of stands there and has his bird do all the work. Iago didn’t even get good treatment here. In fact, I’m hesitant to even call him a character. He’s a minion with no personality. What I think would have helped at least a little bit here is if they actually included Jafar’s sarcastic reprise of Prince Ali. It’s not here this time, and while most wouldn’t care, I do wish that it was, as I can’t help but feel that it could have added some sort of threat to the climax.

    As much as I dislike Jafar in this remake, there is one additional change that they made that I am a fan of. There are multiple scenes leading up to the climax in which Jafar is consistently shown to be under the sultan. In these scenes, we see his inner drive to graduate from number two and to finally be the most powerful in the room. This gave his final wish to become a genie some more punch, and I appreciated that.

    One last thing I want to talk about here is the character work in this movie. There are a lot of scenes where the film pretends to be further developing the characters, but these scenes really don’t add anything. These scenes add nothing that hadn’t been shown in a previous scene. The only purpose that these scenes have is to verbally communicate what the characters are going through to the audience. It’s as if the movie is telling us that we’re not smart enough to see characters change for ourselves and that we need the characters to explain it to us. I mean, yeah, of course, Aladdin gets arrogant once he becomes a prince, that’s obvious. We don’t need Genie to tell him that. It really gets on my nerves when a movie does this, and this one doesn’t get a pass.

    Overall, I didn’t hate the 2019 Aladdin. But I didn’t like it either. And considering that my all-time favorite Disney movie is the 1992 Aladdin, that’s a real shame. The things that this movie gets right are mostly balanced out with the things that it gets wrong. Because of this, I feel that it’s pretty justified giving the movie a 5/10.