“Aladdin” is the new live action version of another one of Disney’s animated classics. The film is directed by Guy Ritchie, who also did “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E”, “Snatch” and the 2 “Sherlock Holmes” films. The film stars Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Merwan Kenzari & Will Smith. Since 2014’s “Maleficent”, Disney has been churning out a slew of live action reboots of their animated classics including “Cinderella”, “The Jungle Book”, “Beauty & the Beast” and “Pete’s Dragon”. While “Snow White & the Huntsman” is based the Grimm fairy tale it isn’t a Disney reboot. “Aladdin” was a huge success in 1992 with a large part in favor to the character of “The Genie” voiced by the late great Robin Williams. With Williams’ performance being almost untouchable, it was very curious to see the direction the filmmakers were going towards with this reboot.
In the Arabian City of Agrabah, a kind hearted street commoner by the name of Aladdin (Massoud), meets the beautiful Princess Jasmine (Scott) who disguises herself to blend with the locals & thus a romantic tale begins. However, Aladdin’s luck runs out when he is caught by the nefarious, Jafar (Kenzari) who the trusted advisor of The Sultan & Jasmine’s father. To avoid being executed, Aladdin agrees to go on a quest for Jafar and retrieve a magical lamp with a supposed very sacred and ancient power. The lamp lies within the mysterious Cave of Wonders and punishes those that are easily persuaded by the cave’s gold and treasure. Upon finding the lamp, Aladdin awakens the powers of The Genie (Smith) who has the ability to grant 3 wishes to one who finds the lamp. With Aladdin and The Genie working together, a friendship is born and the adventure begins as Aladdin wishes his way to impress Princess Jasmine.
This had a lot riding on it much like the other live action reboots. Will Smith as The Genie at first seemed way out of left field and immediately criticized, however he does give a very charismatic performance. While he didn’t top Robin Williams, he was a great fit for this version of the movies. Visually, this film was stunning. Unfortunately this also where the good things about this film come to an end as the film as a whole was disappointing. Mena Massoud’s performance was dull and uninteresting and never really had the charisma of the original. Naomi Scott did have the beautiful look and gives a solid performance but I can’t help but notice the “white washing” aspect of the casting here as they have a white actress playing a Middle Eastern Princess. The Jafar character is supposed to be one the best Disney villains ever but here he’s very bland and not convincing at all.
Overall, this was one of the Disney classics I was dying to see get the live action treatment but it didn’t deliver. I don’t usually criticize the crew but it seemed as if Guy Ritchie didn’t have a clue on how to direct this film. His style is very specific and this story line did not have what he needed to make it work. The acting was solid but the overall tone, storyline and visual effects did not mesh well together. Aladdin was a great animated film but fails in the transition to the live action treatment. Disney can do better and has done better.