Review: Aladdin (2019)

Review by Dustin Heller

In Disney’s attempt to conquer the world (at least at the box office), the live-action adaption of the animated classic Aladdin hits theaters this weekend.  Directed and co-written by the uber-cool Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes), Aladdin is a re-telling of the 1992 animated film of the same name.  The film stars Will Smith as Genie, Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine and Marwan Kenzari as Jafar.  Aladdin is rated PG for some action/peril.

Aladdin, a thieving commoner, has a chance encounter with Princess Jasmine and they both feel an instant connection.  Knowing that the princess could never marry someone from the streets, Aladdin makes a deal with the evil Jafar to retrieve a magical lamp.  Jafar doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain and Aladdin finds himself in possession of the lamp and the genie that comes along with it.  Aladdin is then granted three wishes, but he learns very quickly Jafar will go to any lengths to gain power.

With the massive success of live-action adaptations of The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and Alice in Wonderland, Disney is full-steam ahead with remaking its beloved titles.  Dumbo landed earlier this year (to little fanfare), now Aladdin, and later this summer is The Lion King.  So where does Aladdin rank with all of these remakes?  Unfortunately, the answer is that it falls toward the bottom.  While the live-action version does stay pretty true to the original film, there are some key changes that make it more relevant for today’s culture.

The actors playing Aladdin and Jasmine are excellent, showing a lot of charm, charisma and on-screen chemistry.  Will Smith was fine as Genie, but no one can compete with what Robin Williams brought to the role.  The biggest issue with Genie and really the entire movie was the lack of comedy.  The story is fun and charming, but could have been so much better with some real laughs mixed in.  The other glaring issue was how fake everything looked. From the set pieces to the terrible CGI, it felt more like a video game than a movie.

Live-action Aladdin isn’t a terrible movie or even a terrible remake for that matter.  I just don’t think it was needed in the first place; the original was so great and still holds up to this day.  Disney fans and lovers of the original will probably enjoy this movie, but if it weren’t a remake of such an esteemed classic, it would probably go unnoticed.

Grade:  C+

Aladdin opens in theaters on Friday, May 24

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