Aladdin: Disney+ Talk


Next to ‘Lion King’, the original ‘Aladdin’ is one of my favourite Disney films. However, while I was annoyed at the ‘Lion King’ remake being made, I was cautiously optimistic about the live-action remake of ‘Aladdin’, even when Will Smith was announced as the Genie. And, while the film starts awkwardly, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the live action ‘Aladdin’.

‘Aladdin’ follows a street urchin living in Agrabah, who finds magic lamp and releases a Genie. After being told he can make 3 wishes, Aladdin decides to use these wishes to win over Princess Jasmine’s heart.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: Will Smith plays the Genie. This is a casting choice that I actually really respect. The film company could’ve picked an actor similar to the late Robin Williams’ comedic talent, but they chose not to; instead going in a different direction altogether. While Smith’s portrayal of the iconic character has gained mixed opinions, I would’ve found it disrespectful if the film had tried to copy Robin Williams acting style. Will Smith does a fantastic job at playing the more down-to-earth Genie. Like previously mentioned, his introduction is awkward and, while the film tries to do a variation of ‘Friend Like Me, it will never be as amazing as the original song. However, Smith does improve and looks more comfortable in the role as the film progresses, making him one of the stand outs.

Another stand out actor is Naomi Scott (Charlie’s Angels 2019) as Princess Jasmine. She brings elegance and curiosity to the character, and she’s immediately likable. Her onscreen chemistry with the characters is seamless and effortless, especially her interactions with Aladdin. Furthermore, she has the nicest singing voice in the film. The character is given a solo song in the remake, ‘Speechless’, which is taken from the West End show. While the song reprisal was unnecessary, Naomi Scott delivers an emotional and powerful rendition of the track, making it one of the soundtracks highlights; another highlight is the colourful sequence of ‘Prince Ali’.

The one positive aspect I can take from the recent Disney live action remakes is the extra scenes that are added to explain certain plot points that didn’t make sense in the original film, or an added subplot that previously didn’t exist. The subplot in this remake involves the Genie and Dalia, Jasmine’s maid (played by Nasim Pedrad), whom he falls in love with and tries to win over while staying in the Sultan’s palace. This is a plotline that could’ve easily dragged the film down. However, it gives the Genie’s freedom more meaning when it is granted and the awkwardness of both characters, trying to win each other over without knowing how to, is delightful to watch. The film also explains why Jasmine can’t leave the palace: a citizen killed her mother, the Queen, and Jasmine was kept inside for her own protection. Jasmine being forbidden from leaving the palace was a detail that never made sense in the original animated film, because a reason was never given as to why this was happening.  

The only complaint I have with the film is with the lead actor unfortunately. While Mena Massoud, who plays Aladdin, acts comfortably alongside other characters, he seems out of depth when it comes to his solo scenes, and struggles to keep the viewer’s attention during these sequences. Given better direction, he could’ve been fantastic in this role. 

Overall, ‘Aladdin’ is a delight to watch and one of the better live action remakes to be released by Disney. While the first act is awkward, the film gets better as it progresses. So, why not take a magic carpet ride to a whole new world?

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Megan’s taste in films are interesting: her favourite films are ‘Space Jam’, Studio Ghibli’s ‘The Cat Returns’, as well as horror films ‘Saw’, ‘Drag Me To Hell’ and ‘Ju-On: The Grudge’. When she’s not watching films, she’ll be spending precious hours playing ‘Crash Bandicoot’.