Aladdin (2019) Review: An Uneven Yet Satisfying Remake

Chris Beauchamp, Staff Reporter

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The recent trend in the world of Walt Disney Studios is productions on live-action retellings of their classic library of animated work. It began with 2015’s “Cinderella” to 2016’s “The Jungle Book” to the upcoming retellings of “The Lion King” and “Mulan.” Now, the studio has released their latest retelling in the form of “Aladdin.” So, how was the film? Does Will Smith deliver as the genie? Let’s talk about it.

Photo taken from Aladdin (2019) website
Will Smith’s controversial Genie is the highlight and stand out of the entire film. When production officially began, Smith was the first to join the cast of the remake.

For those not familiar with the story, “Aladdin” tells the story of a thief (played by Mena Massoud), named in the title, who wants to win the heart of Princess Jasmine (played by Naomi Scott). When he is put on a task to find an ancient lamp, he unearths a powerful genie (played by Will Smith) who can grant him three wishes of whatever he truly desires.

Smith is the standout of the entire film. He carries the majority of the engagement and brings lots of his own charm and personality to the character of Genie, which worked greatly to the film’s benefit. You never feel him impersonating Robin Williams as he is providing his own take on the character, which I greatly appreciate. In other words, Smith is being Smith and it works greatly to the film’s benefit.

Scott is as equally engaging as Smith. Her ability as a singer shines and her performance was the strongest between our three main characters. Her character is also provided one of the best singular scenes in the form of a brand-new song, which was a great piece for the character and, once again, showcases Scott’s enormous talent as a singer.  

Photo taken from Aladdin (2019) website
Mena Massoud portrays the title character in his big feature debut. His most notable credits would be found on television from shows such as “Open Heart” and John Krasinski’s “Jack Ryan.”

The musical numbers are very entertaining. They are all well choreographed and led to some of the more memorable moments in the film.

Other than that, the film holds some very glaring issues.

The first of which comes from the title character himself. Unfortunately, he is the weakest between our three main leads. His expressions don’t translate well and show that the performer was more interested in being as close to the source material as possible than providing their own version of the character they are playing, which can be either a good or a bad choice. However, in this particular film, Massoud should have been more focused, as Smith did, in providing his own take while still retaining traits of the original counterpart.

Photo taken from Aladdin (2019) website
The film is directed and co-written by Guy Ritchie. His most notable work are 2000’s “Snatch,” 2008’s “Sherlock Holmes,” 2015’s “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and 2017’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”

The pacing and editing felt rushed throughout. There are many sequences that felt uneven and incomplete, particularly with the musical numbers. While they are performed very well, I never felt that the scenes were fully earned because of how they were paced and edited out. The need for more time and slower pace is noticeable here.

The production itself felt very small and cheap in many areas. The costumes themselves didn’t feel real or looked naturally worn as they were simple props to distinguish the characters we are following throughout the story and nothing else.

The third act was extremely bland and tasteless. When the narrative is building towards its climax, you don’t feel the tension or feelings of excitement as it wanted to provide to the viewer, instead, the act was very underwhelming in the end.

“Aladdin” is a fair remake that gets elements right that many thought would fall flat. It’s entertaining; mostly due to Smith and Scott, but unfortunately has a lead as the title character that didn’t stick the landing and feels rushed in many places within a narrative that will have audiences walking out more satisfied than expected.

“Aladdin” Rating: 7/10

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