Aladdin: Film Review

I had the lowest of expectations for Guy Ritchie‘s live-action version of Aladdin. The promotional material didn’t thrill me and I didn’t even put it on my May movies list but I was determined to see it with an open mind – and I actually liked it! It’s not perfect but it’s nowhere near the travesty I was expecting.

I’m sure we all know the story of Aladdin but here’s a quick recap for the uninitiated: Mena Massoud plays Aladdin, a thief with no parents and a pet monkey named Abu. He falls in love with Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) but knows she can never love somebody like him so when he ends up in possession of a lamp containing a wish-granting Genie (Will Smith), he asks to be made a prince.

Aladdin is neither a complete disaster or a resounding success. The best way to describe it is uneven – some moments fell flat and didn’t spark joy while others were great fun and very entertaining. And it’s not the scenes you would expect either. I would have assumed the musical numbers would have been the highlight but they largely failed to excite. Aladdin’s street-based number was good and Prince Ali was hella cheesy but pretty funny but Friend Like Me was overwhelming and a mess of CGI, and A Whole New World – which I expected to be the spectacle of the whole film – had a really uninspired and disappointing visual setting and it didn’t deliver that romance and wonder vibe. My favourite was Speechless, a new song for Jasmine. It was exciting because it was original but equally felt out of place because it was the only new one.

I felt confident it would be OK once Massoud started doing his thing. He can sing, dance, has sweet parkour skills and he’s cute and endearing – the perfect Aladdin. But the film only got properly entertaining once Smith was in the mix. He has a hard task being the Genie – given what Robin Williams did with the animated version – but he does a great job once he breaks free from what Williams did and makes it his own. The character is very much Will Smith – I don’t think there’s much acting going on – but I like what he does so that’s not a complaint. He was very OTT and overwhelming during his introduction (thankfully he brings it down a notch) and I preferred him in his human form rather than his blue CGI form, but in general, I liked what he did with it and he made me laugh.

Thankfully, given that it’s 2019, Jasmine has been given an update and now wants to be ruler of Agrabah. Jasmine always wanted more from her life in the 1992 film and this expands upon that. She has agency and determination and is not merely the object of Aladdin’s affection. Scott can really sing (I wish her song Speechless was a bit longer) and she looked gorgeous in those beautiful outfits. Marwan Kenzari wasn’t great as the evil Jafar – he didn’t look right and he was like a hammy panto villain. There were some hilarious new additions too, from Billy Magnussen as potential suitor Prince Anders and Nasim Pedrad as Jasmine’s handmaiden Dalia. I also want to give a shout out to the animated characters – Carpet, Apu and Iago – because they made me laugh a lot too.

The film is very loyal to the original plot but with a few modernisations and tweaks. It didn’t feel like an identical copy and a lot of the dialogue, especially with Jasmine and Genie, felt new and that was wise. Smith worked best when he was doing his own thing and not repeating what Williams had done before him. In general, the film is wildly inconsistent and riddled with technical issues – from some messy CGI in places to some jarring sped-up action – but considering I thought it was going to be rubbish I’m pleased to report I liked it a lot!

In cinemas Wednesday 22nd May

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  1. […] World of Celebrity gave three stars, reasoning: “In general, the film is wildly inconsistent and riddled with technical issues – from some messy CGI in places to some jarring sped-up action – but considering I thought it was going to be rubbish I’m pleased to report I liked it a lot.” […]

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  2. […] World of Celebrity gave three stars, reasoning: “In general, the film is wildly inconsistent and riddled with technical issues – from some messy CGI in places to some jarring sped-up action – but considering I thought it was going to be rubbish I’m pleased to report I liked it a lot.” […]

    Like

  3. […] World of Celebrity gave three stars, reasoning: “In general, the film is wildly inconsistent and riddled with technical issues – from some messy CGI in places to some jarring sped-up action – but considering I thought it was going to be rubbish I’m pleased to report I liked it a lot.” […]

    Like

  4. […] World of Celebrity gave three stars, reasoning: “In general, the film is wildly inconsistent and riddled with technical issues – from some messy CGI in places to some jarring sped-up action – but considering I thought it was going to be rubbish I’m pleased to report I liked it a lot.” […]

    Like

  5. […] World of Celebrity gave three stars, reasoning: “In general, the film is wildly inconsistent and riddled with technical issues – from some messy CGI in places to some jarring sped-up action – but considering I thought it was going to be rubbish I’m pleased to report I liked it a lot.” […]

    Like

  6. […] World of Celebrity gave three stars, reasoning: “In general, the film is wildly inconsistent and riddled with technical issues – from some messy CGI in places to some jarring sped-up action – but considering I thought it was going to be rubbish I’m pleased to report I liked it a lot.” […]

    Like

  7. […] World of Celebrity gave three stars, reasoning: “In general, the film is wildly inconsistent and riddled with technical issues – from some messy CGI in places to some jarring sped-up action – but considering I thought it was going to be rubbish I’m pleased to report I liked it a lot.” […]

    Like

  8. […] World of Celebrity gave three stars, reasoning: “In general, the film is wildly inconsistent and riddled with technical issues – from some messy CGI in places to some jarring sped-up action – but considering I thought it was going to be rubbish I’m pleased to report I liked it a lot.” […]

    Like

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