HomeMovies'Aladdin' Review: Disney's Latest Complements but Doesn’t Replace the Original

‘Aladdin’ Review: Disney’s Latest Complements but Doesn’t Replace the Original

Will Smith in Aladdin
Photo Credit: Disney

Written by Kevin Aquino

After 17 years, Agrabah’s favorite street rat hits the silver screen yet again, this time in live-action form. The Guy Ritchie-directed remake isn’t just a Disney cash-grab, but it doesn’t come close to replacing the 1992 version. With that said, slight changes make Aladdin more than a shot-for-shot remake and still worth seeing.

In terms of performances, everyone does their part in fulfilling their characters. Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott are a great pair as Aladdin and Jasmine, with Massoud bringing on the charm and Scott’s Jasmine having more depth than the original. In 2019, Jasmine doesn’t only want to get out of the palace, she wants to succeed her father’s position as Sultan. The film makes Jasmine’s leadership capabilities clear right away, making her the obvious choice for Sultan despite the traditions in place.

Marwan Kenzari as Jafar is considerably less menacing in appearance and voice compared to the snake-like animated original. But a new wrinkle that allows him to connect to Aladdin’s upbringing gives the character a more realistic, if not sympathetic feel. It’s not quite on the Black Panther level of two characters approaching the same idea in a different way, but it’s a nice addition nonetheless.

Will Smith has the biggest shoes to fill as The Genie (RIP Robin Williams), and does a fine job by making the role his own. Smith’s natural charisma shows through as usual, as he puts a hip-hop spin on “Friend Like Me” by rapping the classic song. Even if I won’t bump the remix with DJ Khaled that plays during the end credits, Smith’s rendition has replay potential.

Musically, Alan Menken returns as composer and brings new life to the movie’s score with the help of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (The Greatest Showman, Dear Evan Hansen). Jasmine gets a new song titled “Speechless,” which Naomi Scott powerfully delivers as Jasmine won’t stand idly by as the men of the kingdom tell her what she should and shouldn’t do.

The cinematography and shots of Agrabah are breathtaking. One thing I was wary of was how they would re-create the visuals for “Friend Like Me,” or the big ceremonious feel of Aladdin’s arrival as Prince Ali, but both sequences capture the theatrics well enough.

The plot is basically the same, with a lot of the original dialogue and events still in place. A character that suffers considerably from the live-action approach is Jafar’s parrot sidekick, Iago. Gilbert Gottfried’s iconic voice is replaced by “Polly want a cracker” squawks. Iago still helps Jafar but not with the same bold, boisterous energy as the original.

Aladdin’s target audience seems to be the grown-ups who watched the original as kids and want to relive one of their favorite stories with a new feel. With that in mind, Aladdin doesn’t have the power to stand on its own as the movie to show this era’s kids. The original still holds up well and should still be the movie to watch first. The live-action adaptation is a good way to listen to new versions of the original songs, but it’s hardly “A Whole New World.”

Aladdin is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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