It’s a product of one generation trying to please another, and those moments simply do not work
Flowing with some really great positives, Guy Ritchie’s 2019 live-action version of Disney’s classic Aladdin, is largely similar to the 1990’s version, yet its style choices and character changes offer a different side to the story; a side that doesn’t always shine as brightly as the one that came before.
It’s difficult to not look at the film as a direct competitor to its predecessor, but that is absolutely what the feature becomes, and constantly comparing what’s on screen to what is already known cannot be a good thing, dropping its engagement levels for questioning of its choices and decisions. Will Smith becomes the focal point of these queries, and with such a unique and incredible Robin Williams in the role of The Genie before, the judgement will be stronger than that of anything else to come from the new adaption. The characters charm, likeability and comedic value is altogether lower with Will Smith, but not all of that can be personally pinned onto him.
The Sultan, Jafar and Iago all come off considerably worse in Ritchie’s adaptation as well, losing a huge part of the supporting cast’s ability to change the atmosphere and the story, leaving behind a damper and less enthralling production. The step up from cartoon to live action has almost been left behind for these characters, taking them away from what made them so special.
That doesn’t run for Aladdin or Jasmine however, with Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott showing how to step up their characters from the original, becoming individuals whilst the others shied into the shadows. A lot of this comes with the style choices, which at times seem painfully forced, attempting to appeal to a new and younger, modern audience. But it becomes off putting and at times eye-rollingly annoying. It’s a product of one generation trying to please another, and those moments simply do not work.
However, when taken as a remake with wind in its own sales, Aladdin is far better than it should have been. Ritchie has a habit of botching certain themes and ideas, but none of Aladdin becomes offensive in any way. The production design is excellent, with some high detail level touches added that give out a sense of pride in what the film was to become. There’s certainly a level of care hidden in the film’s layers, proving it meant well at least at some point. It’s editing is very questionable in parts, and there’s a strong sense of Americanisation to the whole piece, but most of the problems seem like mere quibbles when they are written down, larger than any sort of a deeper, underlying series of problems.
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