Aladdin (2019) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
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The latest “Aladdin” live-action remake is really a mixed bag. There are great moments and even magical ones but also moments that drags and bore. That’s the problem with these kind of Disney remakes, it will always be hit and miss when it comes to live characterisation of childhood dreams that we have grown to love and enjoy with a certain degree of familiarisation. This is by no means the fault of Guy Richie who in his own rights attempted to recreate the magic and casted Will Smith particularly well in a role that is almost irreplaceable in the hearts and minds of Disney’s fans (such was the power of Robin Williams in the original voice).
Will Smith headlines as the top billing star as the beloved genie. Whilst Smith remains on guard with the original dialogue, he manages to add flavours to the character to make it more flamboyant and fun. Mena Massoud takes on the role of Aladdin and does so with a certain flair, charm and even innocence. Perhaps the best scene remains the entrance as Prince Ali and then the awkward introduction to the Sudan about jams and bread. Needless to say, Naomi Scott who plays Jasmine gives the character a lot more depth than the original, mostly in line with the #metoo movement as well as the “Speechless” song to hit the crescendo. The famous magic carpet “Whole New World” scene is indeed magical and romantic as are the CGI enhanced tiger and Abu providing plenty of laughs. Marwan Kenzari as the main villain Jafar even manages to be justifiably scary.
All in all, “Aladdin” provides a decent experience with some magical moments induced in between. However for a Disney classic, we expected a lot more and that’s not to say that the film failed to deliver, but with all the efforts to make it work, it falls shorts of expectations. The result is an above average attempt in something that could have been extraordinarily and sensationally magical. When you spend half the film waiting for the “Whole new world” scene, then something entirely right. Let’s just hope “Return of the Jafar” will breach these gaps in between.
I rated it 7/10