It’s crazy to think that Disney’s iconic Aladdin animation premiered close to 27 years ago. The follows a street rat named Aladdin who frees a genie from a lamp. As part of the deal, the genie gives Aladdin three wishes. He uses them to transform himself into a charming prince in order to impress and potentially marry Princess Jasmine – the princess of Agrabah.
After a string of live-action remakes, fans were excited to see one of Disney’s most popular films come to life in an epic, colourful musical – and the remake doesn’t disappoint.
The live-action film stays true to the story we all know and love. However, the film is not a carbon-copy of the animated original. The 2019 film gives the story more breathing space. It examines in greater detail the lives of the main characters and even includes a brand-new song.
Speaking of the characters, Disney should be applauded for their exceptional casting here. While, to many, Mena Massoud is still an unrecognizable name, his role as Aladdin is set to go down as an iconic one – and a gamechanger in his career. Mena gives the titular character an incredible amount of justice. He is charismatic and exudes the true heart of a hero. He effortlessly connects with his audience in the film and does a brilliant job portraying both a street rat and a prince.
Naomi Scott gives an incredible performance as Jasmine. Jasmine feels strongly about female empowerment and it’s a refreshing subplot to watch within her character development. Her chemistry with Mena is something that makes the film so beautiful to watch. The pair truly bounce off each other and create the ultimate love story.
However, while Mena and Naomi give stellar performances, it’s Will Smith as the genie who really steals the show. Will gives his own flavour to the blue character we all know and love. Will had big shoes to fill. Robin Williams made the character so iconic and I can happily confirm that Will never once tried to replicate anything Robin brought the genie. He truly made the character his own and that entire journey is incredibly refreshing to watch. He is equally as funny and watching him interact and grow alongside Mena is something that helps make this movie just as iconic as it’s predecessor.
But, while the film was brilliantly cast, Disney missed the mark with Jafar’s character. In the animated film, Jafar comes across as a strong, dark and creepy man and, unfortunately, that evil doesn’t come to life with Marwan Kenzari’s portrayal. Everything from his look to his performance was underwhelming and, unfortunately, brings down the overall quality of the film. It’s not that Marwan’s acting was bad, he just simply wasn’t the right fit.
A big part of Aladdin is the music and, thankfully, every song we know and love from the original is performed in the remake. The songs are full of life and exude emotion. From the upbeat ‘One Jump Ahead’, ‘Friend Like Me’ and ‘Prince Ali’ to the popular ballad ‘A Whole New World’, the cast did an excellent job vocally. Princess Jasmine also has a brand-new song in this film titled ‘Speechless’ and is cringingly Disney. The lyrics and melody are incredibly predictable and Naomi struggles with her delivery but it was a cute addition to the film – again making sure that it’s not an exact copy of the animation. Oh, and the Zayn and Zhavia Ward cover of ‘A Whole New World’ is everything!
The 2019 Aladdin remake is everything we hoped it would be. It is full of heart, incredible graphics, beautiful music and is a solid tribute to the film so many grew up on.