Film Review: Aladdin (2019)

A live-action remake of Aladdin is decent enough but lacking in any real point or purpose

“You have got to be more confident about what you have to offer”

Disney’s project of milking its animated classics for all their worth through live-action remakes continues apace with Aladdin. And whilst it is enjoyable at times, particularly in the sweet romance of the clean-cut Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott as Aladdin and Jasmine, too much of what made the original work is lost in realism.

This is particularly evident in Will Smith’s Genie, already up against it in the shadow of Robin Williams’ iconic performance. There’s a move to make him a relatable figure with feelings which seems to fly entirely in the face of a fantastical fairytale. Minimising the actual magic consequently robs the film of much of its screen magic.

Guy Ritchie’s production also feels completely at lost with how to deal with the film’s songs. Aladdin really is a film with songs, rather than a fully-fledged musical, but there’s a real lack of inspiration or oomph to the musical numbers here, Smith particularly culpable here with a physcial and vocal lethargy that is unforgivable.

And there’s an amount of cultural baggage that has to be dealt with. Jasmine gets a plotline and a new song and Jafar’s queer coding is excised, both moves in the right direction but neither inculcating any extra fun. Agrabah’s cultural references are confusingly broad too, as much South Asian as Arab whilst definitively not Muslim.

The end result is thus something that ultimately feels pointless, there’s no aspect of this film that you can point at and say this is *that* much better than the animated version. So there’s no whole new world here that’s worth your time but I wouldn’t go out of my way to change the channel if it came on.

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