Disney rubs magic lamp thrice, live action Aladdin appears on big screen

Hannah Kopek, Editor - in - Chief

The Disney animated classic Aladdin returned to the big screens as a live-action film. While the new version was reminiscent of the animation, many parts exceeded my expectations while others were disappointing.

The plot still followed Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and his transformation from rags to riches at the hands of his Genie (Will Smith), as he tried to win over the heart of Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), but  writers, John August and Guy Ritchie, put a modern spin on the old tale. Jasmine was made more intelligent and independent, and song lyrics were interlaced with more relevant topics like climate change.

The set of Agrabah did not disappoint. The busy streets with their plethora of colors and music was both true to the original, and inviting to any viewer. A clear shift could be seen between the busy street, and the isolated cave of wonders due to the clever contrast of bright pinks, yellows, and greens with deep purples, blues, and reds. These colors also followed the characters, with Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) dressed in blacks, and Jasmine in bright teals and pinks. There was no question as to who the villain was, for anyone who had not seen the original. Having to build an entire city near a desert for a movie is improbable, so naturally some of it was computer generated. At certain points, backgrounds would compress or stretch as the camera focus changed. Whether this was intentional or not, it was distracting.

For a music-centric film, the songs and scores did not exude the same “wow factor” as previous live action adaptations. Jasmine was also given her own solo song called Speechless which felt forced and disrupted the flow of the movie. Song lyrics and placement aside, Smith, Massoud, and Scott all have exceptional vocal talent.

For me, Smith stole the show. As both an important, influential character and comedic relief, he ticked all of my boxes as the Genie. Avoiding any comparison to the original Genie voiced by Robin Williams, Smith did his part well. His jokes were not overdone, and were always placed strategically. On the other hand, parts that were meant to be serious came across as funny, like Jafar’s “evil” laugh.

The original Disney animations left big shoes to fill for future remakes. This version of Aladdin did the old version justice and serves as a feel good movie for all ages. I give this movie 3.5/5 stars.