The live-action adaptations of Disney animated classics continue, but Aladdin feels more like three disjointed acts than one cohesive movie.
Sandwiched between Dumbo (released March 29th, 2019) and The Lion King (release date of July 19th, 2019) is the live-action adaptation of the 1992 classic Aladdin. While the movie-going public (and a fair share of internet trolls) hopped on the “you can’t replace Robin Williams” bandwagon and hated this movie from the release of the teaser trailer, Will Smith’s Genie isn’t the worst thing about this version. Dare I say, there are moments in the film where the Genie is the best part of the film. I say parts because instead of feeling like one complete movie, it ebbs and flows between great and cringeworthy that overall, Aladdin is clunky and just kind of there.
If you have seen the animated version, you essentially know the story. A young street rat named Aladdin (Mena Massoud) runs into the beautiful Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) incognito on the streets of Agrabah. Feelings are there between the two, but due to the laws of the land, they could never end up together. The Sultan’s right-hand man Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) eyes Aladdin as his “diamond in the rough”, the only one who can enter the Cave of Wonders to retrieve the magic lamp for his own personal use, but instead Aladdin is trapped in the cave and becomes the Master of the Lamp. From there hilarity ensues as Aladdin, now as Prince Ali, tries to woo Jasmine while learning the lesson of “it’s not who you are on the outside, it’s what is inside that counts”.
The films three acts feel like three separate films, where the first act is the film finding its footing. The set design of the streets of Agrabah are stunning, but the CGI seems disjointed at parts where the chase scene to One Jump Ahead felt like something out of Benny Hill, and not in a good way. Even Smith as the Genie went through an evolution with his role throughout the film, where during Friend Like Me it felt like a pale imitation of William’s performance that it wasn’t until the second act where he shed the blue make-up for a large portion where he made it his own. This second act, covering Prince Ali’s entrance into the palace to his own theme through the dazzling A Whole New World that I started really getting into it. Then the third act hit, and slammed on the brakes of everything I loved leading into it, giving us unnecessary new songs and an elongated final sequence that stretched the film to an unbelievably long 128-minute runtime, when around 110 would have been more than sufficient.
There are some changes to the animated film that really work, and they are few, so if you are going in expecting a lot of the things you love from the animated original, you won’t be disappointed on that front. The performances of our two leads and Smith are all great with the chemistry between Massoud and Scott radiating off the screen. Kenzari as Jafar felt a bit over-the-top, but it was a new character in Jasmine’s handmaiden Dalia (Nasim Pedrad) that was my personal favorite.
Had the overall film felt more cohesive and was about fifteen minutes shorter, I would have loved it a lot more. That being said, for what we the audience are given, my final grade for Disney’s Aladdin is a B-.
What are your thoughts on the film? Leave a comment below and make sure to give me a follow on Facebook and Instagram @moviebirb, and as always, please be civil.