MOVIE REVIEW: Aladdin (2019)
Disney live action remakes have come and gone. Some I've liked more than others. Some I've seen more than others. But, then along comes Aladdin to blow them all out of the water. I can only describe the film as magical. Of all the live action remakes, this film both captures the wonder of the animated film and the splendor of a Disney fairy tale.
For example, I remembered the moment in which Aladdin and Jasmine kissed. The night sky was beautiful and there was an ethereal glow over them. When their lips touched, it just felt magical. Like something special was happening.
But, we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Mena Massoud was amazing as Aladdin. He had that akward boyish charm that we expect from the character. In fact, I felt like both he and Naomi Scott's Jasmine stepped out of the animated film. Scott plays her character with great strength, yet with enough vulnerability to believably let a street rat into her heart. Their chemistry was very palpable. When he asks her to trust him, the twinkle in their eyes make you believe that anything is possible.
There's been much-to-do about Will Smith's taking the role of a character that was so iconically created by Robin Williams, but, to be honest, I thought he was great. No, he's no Robin Williams. But, he wasn't trying to be. He was trying to be Will Smith. Bigger than life Will Smith. And, because of that, he succeeded. I also thought that he and Massoud had a great buddy bromance chemistry that was just a joy to see on screen. Lets say "jams."
I've also read some reviews slamming Marwan Kenzari's Jafar for not representing that deep throatedness Jonathan Freeman brought to the animated role. But, I applaud Kenzari for creating a different kind of evil character while still capturing the mania of Jafar. Just like Will Smith didn't try to imitate Robin Williams, neither does Kenzari with Freeman and that's okay. I thought he made a great villain.
When Aladdin is at its best is when it interpreted the music sequences.This is when the movie felt the most faithful to the animated film. "Friends Like Me" captured the zaniness of the number, "Prince Ali" the insane opulence of it all and "A Whole New World" the magical romance. I just wish there were more music!
Special props go to costuming and production design. The film was beautiful from end to end with the most amazing colored costumes to set design that filled the screen with...to borrow a phrase...dazzling splendor. It reminded me of watching a glorious technicolor musical of yore.
Finally, I love anything with Bollywood dancing in it and, given the original story of Aladdin is supposed to take place in India, I thought it was apropos.
Really, the only thing that bothered me was when they would speed up the film at times. I'm not sure why they did this as it was really unnecessary for the film. I found it distracting at times. But, even still,it was not enough to take away from my enjoyment.
I will definitely go see this film again. In fact, I wanted to watch it again right after I saw it last night. And,I will most likely pre-order Aladdin on digital release. To me. this was the way to do a Disney live action remake.