Kids will love to climb on this magic carpet ride
I remember seeing ‘Aladdin’ with Robin Williams as the blue genie that delighted me. I remember singing the songs with my brother as we left the theatre with my family. When Disney announced they were making a live action movie directed by Guy Ritchie I was curious if it would capture the magic of childhood.
Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is a charming thief in a cartoony fairytale land of Agrabah with a ‘meet cute’ moment where he falls head over heels for Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) in disguise. She’s kept under lock and key by her father the Sultan (Navid Negahban) after a tragedy befelled her mother and is under the spell of his handsome evil vizier, Jafar (Marwan Kenzari). Aladdin and his monkey, Abu, are joined by a magic carpet, the Blue Genie (Will Smith) in a lamp that offers three wishes but yearns to be free and falls in love with Jasmine’s handmaiden, Dalia (Nasim Pedrad) … did I forget the Tiger Jasmine’s BFF and Jafar’s sneaky parrot???
The new live action movie closely follows the classic animated film with modern touches for a hybrid to appeal to fans of all ages. The computer-generated imagery of the animal sidekicks looks great except for the scene in the cave that looked like a video game from the 90’s but it was blip in the look of the rest of the film.
It’s all very bright from being introduced to Prince Ali and leaving Princess Jasmine very unimpressed. The lead cast is beautiful and light and Guy Ritchie does an adequate job overall but is at his best with the early chase scene in the casbah. I really loved the Bollywood dance numbers that shows Prince Ali/Aladdin athletic prowess and charm.
I was holding my breath for my favorite songs that I still enjoy from childhood. “A Whole New World,” when Aladdin and Jasmine escape for a moonlit carpet ride above Agrabah and was curious if it would be as magical as I remember. As well as Genie’s showstopper tune reminding Aladdin to respect the big blue guy“Friend Like Me” seemed to lose something when it went from animation to live action. The cast gave it 110% but it felt like the pace should have been a little faster and maybe not stay as true to the original animated movie and Broadway show (I saw the tour at the Pantages Theatre). The new song “Speechless,” where Princess Jasmine rouses the guards and shows she can lead was a nice addition to the more modern Disney Princess who are wilting flowers looking for rescue.
I found Aladdin to be a solid family friendly action movie that hits all the classic images, humor and style with a little twist. I can’t help but wonder how it would have looked with a director who’s more experienced with family friendly material, musicals and humor. I am sure a new generation of kids will enjoy the bright colors, lovely music, and fall in love with the tiger as directed by Guy Ritchie.
Director Guy Ritchie
Writers John August, Guy Ritchie
Stars Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban
Running Time 2h 8m
Genres Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance