For the past decade, it seems that a lot of Hollywood production houses are jumping on the whole ‘live-action’ bandwagon by remaking beloved animated classics into new movies featuring real humans.
And if you grew up watching Disney movies and proclaim yourself a proud Disney kid, you’ve definitely watched the animated film ‘Aladdin’ a couple of times growing up (at least we did).
Naturally, ‘Aladdin’ is the latest title to be given the live-action treatment and we were invited for an exclusive early preview of the 2019 film directed by Guy Ritchie.
So, how does the 2019 ‘Aladdin’ measure up against the OG 1992 ‘Aladdin’? Will it be a magical ride to viewers? Or will it swallow you up like those who are unworthy of the Cave of Wonders?
Here’s our review of Disney’s live-action ‘Aladdin’:
If you ask anyone who 'starred' in the 1992 ‘Aladdin’, many might struggle with the answer, with the exception of Robin Williams who voiced Genie. Let’s just say it was a predominantly white cast.
The tale of Aladdin is set in the Middle East, so you’d think the least Disney could do in 2019 is to get the casting right by being politically correct. Everything seemed fine and acceptable with the exception of Jasmine, played by Naomi Scott.
Scott is a great actress, but she looks a little out of place considering everyone around her is of Middle-Eastern descendent. Her Sultan dad is Arab, and her mom presumably is Arab too, so why would their child be white? So uhmm, hello Disney?
Mena Massoud, on the other hand, was the excellent choice for Aladdin. He’s got the looks, he’s charming, and performs very well as both the thief of the streets of Agrabah and Prince Ali of Ababwa.
In fact, we think the real life Aladdin has more charisma than the animated 'Aladdin'.
#2 Characters’ Performances
Although we had some minor issues with Jasmine, we were more disappointed in the casting and performance of Jafar.
The evil Jafar you saw as a kid was very menacing, and the type that’ll send shivers down your spine and give you nightmares.
But the live-action Jafar falls short of that expectation. To be honest, he looks more like the creepy, distant uncle you meet at big family functions that you always hide from, instead of an evil sorcerer who's meant to make you feel fear.
1992 Jafar would be so disappointed that he’ll banish 2019 Jafar himself. Locally, Nasir Bilal Khan would 100 per cent make a better Jafar than him.
The Sultan, however, is better than the 1992 Sultan, as he is a man of his own and less comical. He doesn’t listen blindly to his advisor and has the charisma of a real Sultan. So, kudos to the Sultan for the 17-year ‘glow up’!
The live-action movie’s plot is somewhat 70 per cent close to the animated one, even down to the dialogues. You can expect to hear iconic lines such as “Do you trust me?”, “Diamond in the rough” and "street rat" in the movie, which frankly, we’re happy that they maintained it.
Everyone knows that in the 1992 ‘Aladdin’ both Aladdin and Jasmine ended up marrying each other and Genie went off for an around-the-world vacation after being freed of his wish-granting duties.
But in the 2019 ‘Aladdin’, there are a few new plot twists and turns, especially surrounding Genie. Let’s just say the storyline is more… ‘woke’. Jasmine wants to end patriarchal reign, “silly laws”, and is pretty much a modern woman of her own.
However, we felt the writers could do more to spice up the remake. By that, we don't mean kill a character or something; just some minor revelations or alternate storylines that would make 2019 'Aladdin' a movie of its own, instead of following too closely to the original.
If you were asked to watch only one part of the live-action ‘Aladdin’, we’d definitely recommend the parade scene where Prince Ali and Genie were making their entrance to the palace in a bid to win Princess Jasmine’s hand in marriage.
It was more than just a musical number – it was a spectacle, a grandeur of showmanship, a carnival of its own. You can definitely label the performance “extra”, because it truly is.
Will Smith definitely stole Prince Ali’s thunder and gave a new, ‘Fresh Prince Ali of Bel-Abwaba’ spin to the classic "Prince Ali" song, and we can a hundred percent say that you’ll enjoy the performance.
Also, Princess Jasmine gets to sing a new song, which we think was just okay but can be quite forgettable when fared against the rest of the classics.
As for everyone’s favourite tune "A Whole New World", the 2019 in-movie version was a little underwhelming compared to the original. If you’re looking for goosebumps, listen to the other version sung by Zayn Malik and Zhavia Ward. Prepare to get chills!
Stepping into a legendary actor’s shoes can be petrifying, even for someone as seasoned as Will Smith. So, did he do the late actor proud and bring Genie’s character to life in 2019? Our answer is simple: yes.
Both Williams and Smith were entertaining in their own ways. They brought their own flair and for Smith, it was definitely the cool 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air' flair. His personality shined through his character, he added some zest to all the songs and dance routine. He basically embodied everything a genie in ‘Aladdin’ should be.
It would be an insult to say that he’s a better Genie than Williams, because he was, after all, the person responsible for making the character what it is today – funny, eccentric, perky, and colourful.
To be honest, both Genies are the real stars of ‘Aladdin’. So, well done, Will Smith!
Is it really a “whole new world” for the 2019 ‘Aladdin’?
Disney’s live-action ‘Aladdin’ tries quite hard to live-up to the original animated film, but it is indeed a movie that everyone from all ages will enjoy. It sticks too closely to the original and we feel that more room should’ve been given for new, fresh plot twists.
It's a definite must-see for true-blue Disney fans as it will give you all the feels, the nostalgic memories you had growing up thanks to its amazing, vivid song and dance sequels as well as Will Smith’s exceptional performance as Genie.
And just a tip, you can also try watching it with one eye closed when it comes to Jafar’s performance; who knows it’ll be a tad bit better experience.
As for who did it better, the 1992 ‘Aladdin’ definitely wins. Nothing compares to the OG ‘Aladdin’.