I am a HUGE Disney fan. I will shout that from the rooftops, and anyone that knows me well knows that fact about me. The original 1992 animated film version of Aladdin is still one of my favorite Disney movies. The colors, the music and of course, Robin Williams as Genie hooked me. I also appreciated that, for the first time, a Disney princess was a bit of a badass. But I was quite apprehensive about Aladdin 2019.
Aladdin 2019 stars Mena Massoud (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan) as the “street rat” Aladdin and Prince Ali. Naomi Scott (Power Rangers) portrays the caring Princess Jasmine. The most controversial casting decision was probably Will Smith (Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Independence Day, Men in Black) as Genie. The main cast is rounded out by Marwan Kenzari (The Mummy, Murder on the Orient Express) as Jafar, Navid Negahban (Legion, Homeland) as the Sultan, and Nasim Pedrad (Saturday Night Live, New Girl) as Dalia. The movie is directed by Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Sherlock Holmes).
The remake has the same storyline as the original. Alan Menken returns along with help from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (of La La Land and The Greatest Showman fame) to create the soundtrack for the remake. Some of the songs stay the same, but some are updated. For example “Arabian Nights” (sung by Will Smith) is now longer to help establish the setting for the film. Probably one of the most iconic songs from the original, “Friend Like Me”, has been redone to fit Will Smith better (more rapping and a small beatbox section). There is one new song in the movie – a song sung by Jasmine titled “Speechless”. This song is Jasmine’s moment to shine and is sung in two parts, once in the early part of the movie when she gets shot down by her father when she asks to become Sultan, and then at the end when she realizes she needs to take charge and fight for what is important to her.
I was a bit disappointed. I really wanted to love this movie as much as I loved the first, animated one. Will Smith is not Robin Williams and never will be. I tried to give him a fair shot, but his performance fell flat for me. Massoud did a good job as Aladdin, acting wise. However, it’s a Disney movie, which requires the actor to also be able to sing and that is where he fails some. For me, the standout of the movie is Naomi Scott as Jasmine. She can sing and act beautifully. Her Princess Jasmine is a true badass, fighting for her people and fighting to end the antiquated beliefs of Agrabah. In my opinion, she is the redeeming quality of this movie. Don’t get me wrong, the storyline is still great; the colors and scenery are amazing. It just isn’t as great as the original.
Overall, I feel Aladdin 2019 is a good movie to see if you are looking for a bit of nostalgia. Don’t expect the original. I would give Aladdin 3 magic carpets out of 5.
Author: Angelica Colby
Angelica has her Masters in Teaching and uses that daily in her job as an educator and Boy/Girl Scout Program Specialist at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. She loves movies of all sorts (except horror) and is a reality TV show junkie. Newer to the convention scene, she is getting her feet wet and hopes to be covering WonderCon, SDCC and DragCon LA in 2019.
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