Comparing Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of Aladdin with the animated classic will get you nowhere. Trying to use a release from the ’90s to judge a live-action remake is like comparing apples and oranges. Disney’s latest live-action remake (like the previous ones) draws inspiration from its animated roots but isn’t meant to replace or even supersede any other film. In reality, although both movies share a connection, they are each their own separate animal. Nothing will ever recapture that magic which Robin Williams injected into the film, but that doesn’t this cast can’t conjure up their own spell to cast over the skeptics.
Ritchie’s Aladdin captures the spirit of the original film creating an entertaining experience which expands a world we first visited in 1992, creating a lavish visually appealing spectacle which will appeal to a new generation of fans. Smith doesn’t attempt to recreate what Williams brought to the role of the Genie but does bring his special dash of showmanship and spark to the film. Naomi Scott was fantastic as Jasmine and likely will be the centerpiece of Aladdin’s awards season push with a song called “Speechless.” Mena Massoud is solid in the lead role of Aladdin.
The production and costume design in Aladdin stood out to me. The sequence where the Sultan’s guards are chasing Aladdin was fun to watch and reminiscent of most Guy Ritchie releases. The costume designs were lavish booming with color. If anyone is looking for an example of what I mean by this, check out the sequence online of Will Smith singing “Prince Ali.”
My areas of concern for the film stems from two places. For starters, why does Guy Ritchie feel it necessary to use slow motion in legitimately every movie he directs? He uses it here a few times during the film, and it just felt odd. Secondly, I’m not sure we needed so much exposition of why Jafar had evil intentions towards the Sultan. I felt that added about 15 minutes to the film that wasn’t necessary.
Overall, Aladdin is anchored by standout performances from Naomi Scott and Will Smith and delivers delightful family-centric entertainment. This film is the type of release the whole family can see and come away with a smile on your face. What we have to remember is that it’s okay to hold those classic releases close to our heart, but don’t let stubbornness stand in the way of a chance to be entertained in a whole new way.