Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: John August, Guy Ritchie
Stars: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott
May contain minor spoilers.
Disney has found success in taking their animated classics and remaking them into live action blockbusters. There are arguments for and against this method of filmmaking—some more meaningful than others—but in a world where IP is everything; there are worse ways to make a film. And while the only other live action adaptation I’ve seen is The Jungle Book, I felt like Aladdin was one I had to see.
When I was 8 years old, I’d venture to guess my favorite movies were probably Roger Rabbit, the Back to the Future trilogy, and Aladdin—despite only half of those being of the animated variety, I was a big fan of cartoons. I can’t think of many movies—animated or otherwise—that have stuck with me nearly 27 years later; Aladdin does. To this day, the animated Aladdin movie remains my favorite from the Disney collection. Most of that credit goes to the late Robin Williams’ performance as the Genie. To this day, I can’t think of a performance I enjoy more than his zany take on this incredibly fun character.
BIG SHOES TO FILL
Will Smith’s casting was met with some controversy, but I would argue that any actor would have been scrutinized in that role. I’ve been a fan of Will Smith since his days as the Fresh Prince and my only fear was that he was tasked with going up against Williams—Smith haters would try to use that against him. No one can out “Robin Williams” Robin Williams and Smith didn’t try to—while honoring Williams original performance, he put his own spin to the role.
It’s not just the role of Genie that had big shoes to fill; the entire film had a beloved classic to go up against. Aladdin was the fourth film of the Disney Renaissance era and, along with The Lion King, holds the highest rating of that era. It has the second highest worldwide box office (with The Lion King almost doubling that to take first) and is generally loved by fans. Director Guy Ritchie and stars Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, and Will Smith had an uphill battle.
While it’s hard to not compare the two films, I went into this remake with open eyes. I did really enjoy The Jungle Book, and that was an animated films I was lukewarm on. So whether it’s that I love this story, my general positivity towards entertainment, or a combination of those two factors; I really enjoyed Aladdin. It hit the few check marks I needed: Will Smith honoring the role of Genie, honest takes on these classic songs, and updating some of the flaws of the original for a 2019 audience.
DID WE NEED A LIVE ACTION ALADDIN?
While you know this story going into the live action remake of Aladdin, I think there are a few tricks this film provides and makes it’s existence worthy. The most compelling is the story arc for Naomi Scott’s Jasmine. Her story is similar to that of the classic animated film, and it feels very appropriate to revisit that in 2019. There’s an argument that we should have gotten a movie from her point of view instead of this simple remake—one that I happen to agree with—but I think the conclusion to her story is very powerful and appropriate.
We also can’t argue with the box office—in 1992, Aladdin made $504,050,219 worldwide—that equates to $920,051,523 in 2019. In just about a month, the remake is at $819,465,720… people still want to see new spins on their childhood favorites! If this is any indication, this article seems to accurately predict The Lion King of having the best summer this year.
If nothing else, Aladdin also gave us the return of Will Smith and his end credits song! All the music was great, especially the new addition for Jasmine, Speechless. But, for this kid from outside of Philadelphia, nothing will ever beat a chance to see Will Smith shine!
Yes, Aladdin is a remake of an animated classic that you may know the story of already. But, the live action version will offer some surprises, a great soundtrack, and beautiful visuals that will make you want to be part of the movie. Who know, maybe while you’re visiting a whole new world, you’ll meet a new friend?
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