Aladdin (2019)

Grade: A

Back in 1992, I was one of the lucky few to see Aladdin before the movie was finished.  There were pencil animations mixed in with storyboard shots for the parts of the movie that were not completed.  I was nine at the time and nobody in the audience had any clue that we were witnessing a Disney classic before the world got even a glimpse of the film.  Some time later, when the movie was finished and released, I have fond memories of going to see it with my grandma as she watched in wonder and laughed at Robin Williams’ “Genie.”  I also remember her being terrified of Jafar’s snakes throughout the movie. Luckily for her, they did not have much screen time. The 1992 Aladdin was definitely a phenomenon as kids everywhere grabbed whatever Aladdin merchandise they could get their hands on.  Very similar to the Frozen toy craze of 2013 when it was impossible to get your hands on an Elsa doll in time for Christmas.  

27 years later, the live action remake of Aladdin is finally here and while I was initially skeptical about it, I knew I HAD to see the movie.  Even though the late great Robin Williams is no longer the “Genie,” Will Smith did a great job in making the role his own.  With Guy Ritchie directing, I was excited because I am a fan of his prior work, such as the Sherlock Holmes movies and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  At my first glance of the live action Aladdin, I was hooked when I saw Aladdin (portrayed by Mena Massoud) run through the bazaar in an action packed setting.  It was very reminiscent of a scene from one of the Bourne movies with Matt Damon.  Along with the action, I saw quick cuts of extravagant dance numbers and it just looked incredible.  The vibrant colors and bustling town of Agrabah were mesmerizing. You could tell just by the dazzling costumes alone that Disney went all in on this two hour and eight minute magic carpet ride!  They spent a pretty penny and not a cent of it went to waste. Of course a majority of it is CGI but the CGI used, was excellent. Abu and Raja looked pretty real to me.

Aladdin is quite the spectacle and Ritchie takes it up a notch from the 1992 animated version.  More colors feast the eyes and more intricate dance numbers will leave you with your mouth on the floor.  Everyone in the movie that has to dance, can REALLY dance. The choreography was perfect in every dance number.  No doubt, this version is even more of a musical with a few new songs thrown into the mix. Princess Jasmine’s (portrayed by Naomi Scott) “Speechless” is at least guaranteed an Oscar nomination.  You heard it here first! Will Smith’s rap version of “Friend Like Me” is naturally a total departure of Robin Williams’ classic version but, it does work and entertain. That being said, it is nowhere near as memorable as the original version.  When you think “Genie,” you will always think of Robin Williams’ version first no doubt.

Even if you are such a huge fan of the original version and refuse to see the live action Aladdin, I highly recommend that you go into it with an open mind.  There is more story in this version than the original and you will be entertained throughout the entire movie.  It is also very funny because at times it does mirror the animated version in a way that is hard to describe. For example, Massoud really studied Aladdin’s facial expressions from the animated version because at certain times you will catch him flossing that famous devious grin his animated counterpart was famous for and it is kind of a nod to the original movie.  Grab some friends and take the closest magic carpet ride to the nearest theater to see the live action version of Aladdin.  It is not completely a whole new world but, it is totally worth taking the trip to Agrabah once again!

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