Popular songs and the kind of boy-meets-girl love story we religiously root for, Aladdin (2019) is a fable made classic by the 1990’s animated film from Disney. Over twenty years later, they re-introduce us to the legend with a live-action version full of color, and somehow a ‘whole new world.’
Aladdin (2019) Disney Film Review
The story remains the same. We meet an orphaned young man named Aladdin (Mena Massoud), who uses the streets to run his cons. On this fine day, everything is the same with exception to the arrival of the beautiful Dahlia to the square. Aladdin has never seen this girl before, but he knows she’s far above his class. What he doesn’t know is that Dahlia is really the princess, Jasmine (Naomi Scott). With royal princes visiting constantly to try and win the hand of the princess, Aladdin knows he has no chance to win her heart.
What he doesn’t know is that a trusted adviser of Jasmine’s father, Japhar (Marwan Kenzari) plots evil. He plans to take over the role of most high ruler, but to do this, he must first possess a simple oil lamp that is home to a powerful Genie (Will Smith).
Like anything Disney does, this 21st century adaptation has a kind of sparkle that cannot be denied. Is Disney overrated? Maybe, but I can tell you with confidence, each of their live-action remakes have been phenomenal so far. From Dumbo to Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, and now this, I haven’t seen one I didn’t enjoy.
As my mom and I settled in to watch Aladdin (because she humors me with so many of the movies we see), we talked about was whether or not this was something I had seen as a kid. To be honest, I cannot remember. I recognize the songs (‘You’ve Never Had a Friend Like Me’ and ‘A Whole New World’), but that could be because of the cassette tapes we owned and compulsively listened to. Either way, I do know the story, and having seen this version, I don’t think I’ll go back.
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With exception to its top billed star (Smith), this is a relative unknown cast, which I respect. Will Smith is witty and downright hilarious as the Genie; Mena Massoud is good as the leading man with exception to one or two scenarios; Naomi is lovely as Jasmine, and also pays homage to her impressive vocals in a “breakout” song near the end. Having previously seen Naomi in Power Rangers (which is yes, silly, but also fun), it was exciting to see her cast in a leading role here. The entire cast as a group suits their parts, although like any fairy tale, the romance isn’t fleshed out as nor is it “realistic.”
That said, I do have to give props to the script which doesn’t go all in for a “big declaration” and instead offers snapshots of a romance for those of us who like it, along with danger, forgiveness and the lessons we must learn along the way. Plus I cannot argue that the ‘Whole New World’ sequence isn’t a beautiful one; it’s exquisitely shot, and it’s all about the swoon-y love story feels.
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Directed by Guy Ritchie, this film has a distinct appeal all its own. It’s definitely a film stamped with the Disney emblem, but it’s also got the flair of its director written all over it. From the chaotic dashes through busy streets to powerful musical numbers, I see his signature everyone. Perhaps this is because of how he directs the more recent Robert Downy Jr. Sherlock Holmes films; the colorful world and the “staging” of it all is indeed reminiscent of those. What I like so much about Aladdin (2019) is that it is a proper Disney film. There’s light and color, evil vs. good, humor and romance, and all the things we love best about a classic Disney fairy tale. The costumes are also pretty, and intricate.
Discover a whole new kind of world in the desert sands of this adventure. It’s exciting and sweet, and best of all, it truly is the embodiment of what a good family adventure should be. Of course, if you don’t have kids, as I can attempt, this one also works for the big kids too.
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Content: This one is rated PG for nothing more than some minor adventure “violence,” including some images that may frighten younger kids (like a being transforming into a large magical creature in a plume of smoke) plus, some minor innuendo.
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