ALADDIN – A Review by Cynthia Flores
When I realized that the director and co-writer for the new Disney live-action version of the famous Aladdin story was going to be Guy Richie I was surprised. He’s known for super cool, violent, hip films and not so much for any family movies. I was afraid that as the new live version of Dumbo, Aladdin would be a much darker and bloodier story. To my surprise, it stayed pretty true to its source material of the animated 1992 film of the same name. Mix in some of the music and songs from the successful Broadway musical of that same animated film. The only real sign of Mr. Richie at the helm was shaky, “sped up look” that is his stock and trademark in any action sequences. It works for his other films, but here it was distracting and out of place. It made the chase scenes look like everyone had drunk too much coffee or had way too much caffeine before they did them. It gave the film a jittery feeling before it would settle back into an average pace or song.
This new film tells the exciting tale of a charming street thief named Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and the courageous and beautiful Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). They meet on the streets of Agrabah in Arabia when the princess is disguised as a common girl so she can see for herself how her people are doing. Aladdin falls for her not knowing who she really is until he is captured while visiting her in the palace by the evil Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) Royal Vizier, to the Sultan (Navid Negahban) of Agrabah. Jafar himself once a thief sees that Aladdin is the “Diamond in the rough” that he needs to enter a magic cave and retrieve the lamp that holds the Genie (Will Smith). An all-powerful Genie that can grant three wishes to whoever owns and rubs the lamp.
In case you live under a rock and don’t know the rest of the story, it follows the following plot line. A boy meets a girl. The boy, with the help of a Genie, becomes a prince and tries to win the girls hand in marriage. The boy is bested by an evil power-hungry man. All looks lost. Good fights against evil and…. You will just have to go see this movie to know how it ends.
If you do decide to see this film, you’ll get to enjoy a fantastic score by eight-time Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken and Oscar-winning lyricists Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. As well as songs by Menkin and Oscar, Tony Award-winning songwriters Benji Pasek and Justin Paul. Because of the times we live in there are more “Girl Power” type songs in this version of Aladdin than there were in the original animated film. I can hear it now, all the little girls in the audience, including my four-year-old niece singing those new songs aloud after the movie. Much like the song “Let It Go” from the other Disney animated hit Frozen.
Is this newest live-action version of an iconic animated classic like Aladdin perfect? I would say a big no to that. I will, however, say that it’s fun to watch and the music is excellent. Also, I was afraid that the very long shadow of the late great actor Robin Williams who created the voice for the original animation would be a huge stumbling block to overcome. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see Will Smith make the role of the Genie his own despite such a big challenge. The new live version film Aladdin is a solid family film that I give a B- rating.
Directed by Guy Richie
Written By John August, Guy Richie
Selig Rating B-
Running Time 2hrs 8min
Drama / Comedy
Wide Release May 24th
Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.