Aladdin Disney 2019 Live-Action Remake – Movie Review
Video review :
Written review :
Aladdin is Disney’s live-action remake of their own 1992 animated adaptation of the popular Middle Eastern folk tale from One Thousand and One Nights, better known as Arabian Nights in English.
The film is directed and co-written by Guy Ritchie, who did some very good crime comedies such as Snatch (2000) and RocknRolla (2009), both which I really enjoyed. He also directed both of the Sherlock Holmes films (2009, 2011) which starred Robert Downey Jr. And he directed some really bad movies as well such as King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) and Swept Away (2002).
We all know the story of Aladdin. He is a poor but kindhearted thief who stumbles upon Jasmine, the Princess of Agrabah, on the street and they fell in love. But his luck doesn’t stop there. He also finds a sentient flying carpet and a magic lamp that lives a powerful genie who must grant three wishes to whoever that possesses the lamp.
Now I wasn’t convinced by the trailers and I didn’t really like any of the Disney’s live-action remakes so far except for Jungle Book (2016). But I wanted to give it a chance ’cause I remember I loved the 1992 animation when I was a kid. And I haven’t seen it again since I was in primary school so I thought at least the experience would be nostalgic and I wouldn’t be able to compare them scene by scene.
Sadly this remake felt so empty it’s so painfully obvious that it’s no where near as good as the original. It lacks the energy, charm and magic that the animated film had.
It is over 2 hours long and yet the pacing still feels it’s rushed like it’s casually flipping through a children’s storybook. It’s like here’s the nice guy, here’s the princess, here’s a chase scene, here’s the bad guy, here’s the genie, here’s some music videos, and climax, and the end. I wasn’t hoping to be surprised. I just wanted it to be at least as good as the original but it’s no where near it.
The film also made some changes to the story and characters, which are totally fine if they were well executed but it just ended up making the whole film not very believable. Maybe Ritchie was just the wrong Guy to do the job. Based on his track record, romance fairytales are obviously not his forte.
The actors are all good-looking as hell but their performances are pretty weak. Mena Massoud as Aladdin is just boring and he fails to project the strong hero vibe in the film.
Princess Jasmine is played by Naomi Scott, who’s most known for her role as the Pink Ranger in the 2017 Power Rangers reboot. She’s probably one of the better actors in the film and her script has some newly added original feminist stuff she could work with (something which Disney should’ve have done for their 2015 Cinderella remake instead). But still I didn’t like or felt bad for her character. And I definitely wasn’t convinced by the romance. Even the iconic “A Whole New World” part felt empty.
Jafar, the evil sorcerer who wants to be the Sultan, is played by Marwan Kenzari whose performance is very weak here. Like Massoud, Kenzari is not very expressive here and I didn’t find him as menacing and compelling as the Jafar in the animation. Instead of the confident, sleepy-eyed Jafar, we get this young Kylo Ren-like villain instead. His script should share the blame as well. The film did so much changes to Princess Jasmine but did not bother to give Jafar better motives apart from his lust for power.
The Genie played by Will Smith is basically just Will Smith being Will Smith. Without comparing him to the late Robin Williams’ version of the Genie in the original, he’s done okay with the material that was given to him. His quick-talking, comedic character brings a bit of life to the film that’s otherwise so boring that could have made me watch the whole thing with a straight face. And I’m okay with him being blue and CGI even though it doesn’t look great. I just wished he used his magic a little bit more. This reminds me of how the Green Lantern (2011) has the power to create anything with his imagination but his movie just failed to come up with anything creative.
What I also didn’t like is how the film made Abu the monkey and Iago the parrot slightly less sentient and pretty much smaller characters than they already were. The cute, child-like magic carpet is perhaps the only character that I actually liked in this remake. The magic carpet probably has more memorable moments than anything else in this film.
The production sets and costumes are absolutely beautiful. But apart from that, in overall, the film is just not good enough. I believe I could actually rewatch the 1992 cartoon right now and still enjoy it more than this remake. If you can’t improve it, don’t remake it. Well Lion King is next, and then it’s Mulan. Hmmmm…
Genre: Romance fantasy
Running Time: 128 minutes
Director: Guy Ritchie
Screenwriters: Guy Ritchie, John August
Cast: Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, Numan Acar
Malaysia Release Date: 23 May 2019
Local Distributor: (no info)
Production: Walt Disney Pictures, Rideback, Lin Pictures, Marc Platt Productions