Premiere Date: May 24th
Live-action remakes of classic Disney movies have been all the craze lately and show no sign of stopping. The latest of these is the adaption of the 1992 Disney classic; Aladdin. The 2019 version of the cartoon stars Will Smith as the Genie, Naomi Scott as Princesse Jasmine and Mena Massoud as Aladdin himself. Like every other movie, this too will be subject to criticism, but also, like every adaption, this will also face the issue of being compared to the original… And that is no small feat. The 1992 Aladdin has been cherished by so many and saw one of the most iconic Robin Williams performances of all time when he took on the role of the genie. This live-action version of the Disney classic has its fair share of hurdles to overcome, but if anyone can do it successfully; it’s Disney.
~ REVIEW ~
Going into this movie, I must admit that I did not have the highest of expectations. In fact, when I saw the most recent still from the iconic Prince Ali scene, I was less than impressed. Combine that with the fact that I grew up on the 1992 version and Robin Williams remains one of my favorite actors of all time, there were more than enough reasons why this movie should have failed for me.
However, as the movie progressed and I sank into my movie theater seat, I got more and more absorbed in the movie. And when I say movie, I mean THIS movie. The 2019 version of it… as a standalone and not compared to the 1992 cartoon. I found that this movie was able to create a perfect balance between old and new.
It kept enough elements and storylines similar to the 1992 version for it to feel both nostalgic and recognizable. A key component of this was keeping the original songs in this rendition. On the other hand, it also took the original and adapted it to fit the new characters/actors (Will Smith, in particular). After all, it wouldn’t be a Will Smith song without a little rap or beatbox… This introduction of new elements or lyrics helped this adaptation forge its own identity, independent of the previous version.
In addition to adapting the film to better fit its new actors, it also made a point to introduce some subject matters to adapt it to the new era. In 2019, the themes most present around us are very different than the ones in 1992. I think the introduction of Princess Jasmine as a powerful feminist character was a very pleasant surprise to a lot of Aladdin fans. The simple acknowledgment that women are not mere object to be sold off to marriage is a HUGE step for Disney, who has seen its fair share of criticism regarding the tone of their princess movies. The Wall Street Journal, for one, published an article titled “Beauty and the Backlash” essentially criticizing the lack of ambition shown by princesses in Disney movies.
The cinematography of the movie was great, as can be expected from the same people who made the most recent Jungle Book. The musical sequences were stunning and nostalgic. What I appreciated most from those parts was that the soundtrack doesn’t shy away from the ethnic and the cultural aspects of what music should sound like in a city called Agrabah. The Middle Eastern touches did not go unnoticed and I’m sure will be very appreciated by a lot of viewers from those same origins.
All in all, despite the heavy criticism, I think Disney was able to prove itself once again.