Aladdin 2019 review
What person doesn't know the story of a thief named Aladdin who comes across a lamp and unleashes a genie? Not only did the story become mainstream from the 1992 animated movie, but his story also relates with people who dream that they can make their wish come true in a heartbeat. Of course I've never heard of anyone finding a magic lamp and getting supernatural abilities to get their desires. It's part of the magic of thinking that you could get the treasure and power without having to work hard. Aladdin is the story that reveals that even with a cosmic being providing those gifts, life never really offers an easy answer.
Going back to the Disney animated movie, what made the movie were a lot of elements; beautiful animation, likable characters, a fun villain in Jafar, but probably the most important element, Robin Williams finally fully realized in comedic potential as the Genie. This has made arguably one of the funniest and unbound performances from a comedian who was already full of energy. In the recent trend of taking Disney classics like Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, and The Jungle Book, and making them live-action, Aladdin now gets it's turn in that format.
Within the kingdom of Agrabah, a street rat thief Aladdin (played by Mena Massoud) and his monkey Abu "eat to live and steel to eat" within the poor village as they strive for something more. Princess Jasmine (played by Naomi Scott) also strives for more as she's treated more like an object as her father, the sultan wishes to marry her to a prince of another kingdom. Jasmine's only companions are her tiger, Rajah, and her handmaiden Dalia (played by Nasim Padrad). Aladdin meets Jasmine, but realizes when she's the princess, he realizes he can never be with her.
This changes when the Grand Vizier of the Sultan, Jafar (played by Marwan Kenzari), takes Aladdin out to the desert where the Cave of Wonders is. He's instructed to not touch the treasure and only go for the lamp. After the cave collapses, Aladdin rubs the lamp and releases the Genie (played by Will Smith) who tells him he gets three wishes. Knowing that he can finally be with Jasmine, Aladdin wishes to be a prince. While staying in the palace, Aladdin learns more about the Genie, how money can't buy love, and that Jafar is planning his takeover of Agrabah.
Director Guy Ritchie made the decision to stay as close as possible to the animated original…and that ends up being the main problem. While I can’t say Aladdin is a "shot-for-shot" remake, it goes through the same story, same plot, same emotions, and same songs all over again, just within a live action realm. While I understand Disney knew that moments from Aladdin were so iconic they couldn't have been changed, they should have known that by constantly evoking the look of the original, I kept asking myself "why am I not just watching the original?".
So what is different? The biggest is one of the few positives, and that's Will Smith. He thankfully does not try to copy Robin Williams and instead plays the Genie like the Fresh Prince. This also makes him more of a guy whose had several masters and Aladdin is just next in line. I liked that Aladdin and Genie had do build a friendship instead on an instant one. The movie tries to expand Jasmine's role, that only ends up seeming forced and unnecessary. This is no better shown through her song "Speechless", which could be cut and nothing would be missed. The worst is the casting of Jafar, who has no grace and is so generic looking, that he looks like a random person from the grocery store they just put into a Jafar outfit.
Other then some nice costumes and sets, not much is really different. The moments from the animated movie play out the same here which can make it easy for you to guess what happens in the end. Aladdin fights palace guards, Jasmine wants more in life, Genie does his magic, and Jafar tries his big takeover. This is a movie that while made alright, it feels completely pointless. I can't say it's as bad as the shot-for shot remake Psycho or even as bad as the live action Beauty and the Beast or Maleficent, but all it did was make me think about the animated Aladdin and made me appreciate how much better it was then this.
I'll give this two and a half Jafar cobras out of five. I'm sure this will have it's fans, but whether a parent should take their kids, they can. It's just that it's so similar to the animated version that I would recommend wasting their money to see something they probably already own. For my three wishes, its to erase this, erase the majority of live action remakes, and to set you free to see something else.