The 2019 reboot/reimagining/reinterpretation of Disney’s 1992 classic animated film is a better film than the original. I’ll go ahead and get that controversial statement out of the way from the onset. Aladdin (2019) is a better movie than Aladdin (1992).
Yeah, I said it. The story is better; the filmmakers added more dimensions to all the major players, giving us more reasons to connect with these people who are singing and dancing on the screen. The music is nearly as good, though it does suffer from a “been there, done that” vibe. The title character is far superior to his animated counterpart. Frankly, the animated Aladdin (the character) is boring. Mena Massoud brings charm, wit, and humor to the role in a way the animated character couldn’t or didn’t. And Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), though significantly altered in tone and style, is a more despicable and evil character in the live-action version.
Director Guy Ritchie includes some of his signature breakneck style, but he does a great job of maintaining a tone which fits nicely alongside the aesthetics of the original film. He simply updates and modernizes things.
The Genie in the room…
Yet, having said all that, the film’s legacy will hinge on one thing: The Genie. Will Smith gives it his best shot, injecting his personality and his particular skills into the character, but there is no topping perfection. The original film is not a great film but most of us remember it as one of the highpoints of Disney animation and it’s all because of Robin Williams’ iconic performance. I applaud Will Smith for what he does with the character, and he acquits himself admirably, but he never had a chance.
There are very few negatives to discuss. I do think the progressive feminist storyline with Jasmine (Naomi Scott) was a bit heavy handed, but there are bigger offenders in this regard in the film world. The film is “woke” but not so woke as to turn off half the audience. I’m fine with giving Jasmine more agency and power, but they sacrifice authenticity and logic to do so. Not to mention, her big song is good but doesn’t really fit the style of the classic songs.
The new Aladdin is a solid film, a better film than the original. But without Robin Williams as the Genie, the film never quite reaches the highs of the original animated classic. Still, it’s a worthy adaptation and one I will revisit in the future.
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