There’s a new trend at Disney seeing their old animated classics turned into modern day motion pictures. Following the successes of Beauty and the Beast in 2017 and Dumbo earlier this year (and with ten other titles scheduled for release until 2020); Aladdin is the newest film to receive the live action treatment.
Naomi Scott steals the show as strong-willed Princess Jasmine. Given a stronger story arc than her animated counterpart, she’s been reimagined as a role model young girls can look up to, the film’s targeted audience. The newly-penned Speechless (with lyrics by Dear Evan Hansen‘s Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), is an anthem for future feminists everywhere.
Mena Massoud perfectly captures the free-spirited nature of the Agrabah street rat protagonist. He takes every opportunity to flash his pearly whites, mimicking some of the film’s most iconic scenes – “do you trust me?”
Will Smith delivers another strong performance, and his infectious smile and natural charisma transcends through the screen. He succeeds in making the genie character his own, knowing not to attempt imitation of Robin William’s beloved performance. Also, there’s real nostalgia in hearing him sing again for a movie; it’s been 17 years since he released Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head), featured on the Men in Black II soundtrack.
Marwan Kenzari (Jafar), Navid Negahban (Sultan) and Nasim Pedrad (Dalia) also star.
While its musical numbers are a triumph of spectacular exuberance, the film is greatly affected by use of the cheap looking CGI of its prominent animal characters, Abu and Iago. Director Guy Ritchie has done a fine job recapturing the magic of the 1992 original, but it never fully gets there. However, despite its imperfections, there’s enough vibrancy, humour and colour to keep audiences enthralled during its 128 minute run time.
Aladdin is in theatres now.