Written By John August and Guy Ritchie
Composed By Alan Menken
Produced By Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich
Edited By James Herbert
Directed By Guy Ritchie
Now THIS is what I call a fan favorite...as it was released in 1992, 'Aladdin' is often considered as one of the golden films of the Disney Renaissance next to 'The Little Mermaid', 'Beauty And The Beast' and 'The Lion King'. However unlike those movies, it's not necessarily because of the way that 'Aladdin' would push animation or storytelling to a brand new level but rather how audiences would have so much fun with this film with the musical numbers and the characters among all sorts of magic and adventure that Aladdin himself would get into to the point where even animation legend Chuck Jones himself called 'Aladdin' the funniest movie ever and this is coming from the guy credited to making some of the greatest Looney Tunes cartoons. It was a massive box office hit, a major awards collector and would be the one to initiate all of those direct-to-video sequels with 'The Return Of Jafar' being the first even bringing out a successful Broadway musical and an animated series that still has a cult following. For Disney, 'Aladdin' is an entire treasure in itself...but can turning this animated classic into a live-action remake bring us into 'A Whole New World' or is it finally time to put the Genie back into his lamp? Let's find out, this is 'Aladdin'!
ALADDIN: Young Aladdin embarks on a magical adventure after finding a lamp that releases a wisecracking genie
As 'Aladdin' is making the jump from animation to live-action, there's no hiding that it did receive a downgrade; most notably how the jump made it become visually dull. One of the stand-out elements of the animated film is the way that it used color in order to tell its story while also giving the movie a high energy to always make every scene interesting and fun to watch. In the remake however, most of the color got sucked out in favor of adding lots of little details in the environment which doesn't deliver the same effect and sometimes can put the focus out of the characters that the audience is supposed to pay attention-even the CGI isn't all that appealing where it only stands out when it features the Genie or the animals just being animals with the only exception to this being the costume designs since at least that does try its best to give out more color and some life onto the scenes on top of really selling the idea that this is all set in an Arabian environment. But even with that, it still fails to capture the visual essence of the original and it results in having Agrabah look dull.
But that's not the only thing that's significantly weaker than the animated film-if you think that was bad, wait 'til you see what the remake did to Jafar...good lord, what have you done to my favorite of the Disney Villains?! Now some may have commented before on how attractive actor Marwan Kenzari was, but in here...he is one of the biggest turnoffs since his acting is constantly so stiff and nearly monotone throughout the film where he always sounds like he's mildly whining about his food not tasting as good as he expected to the point where it's almost like he's the real dad of the kids from the 'Dumbo' remake. Then again, Jafar isn't the only character making things worse for the movie since the film added a new character named Dalia who is Jasmine's handmaiden in an attempt to differentiate itself from the original-not only is she incredibly pointless to the feature, but also obnoxiously cringy with how she always tries to force out a joke with her airhead-like personality.
I guess there is no surprise here that there are many elements that failed to capture what the animated 'Aladdin' managed to do so well-in fact, there are some elements that we remember the most that ended up falling flat in the remake like Jafar being embarrasing, the visuals not being interesting to look at, the new additions only make things worse...and yet there's still not enough for me to call this a legitimately bad movie. As much as there are prominent flaws in this remake, there are still a good amount of elements that help make the feature go up to be at most enjoyable-one of which possibly being the main reason why many would want to see this film: Will Smith as the Genie...okay, not everything about him is great since the CGI when he is at his full Genie mode is laughably bad. Not only is it obviously out of place from the rest of the film, but the effect also made it look like it turned Will Smith into a blue Shrek...however when it comes to his performance, he actually inadvertently succeeded in capturing the spirit of the character. In the animated film, it's Robin Williams being a cartoony Robin Williams...and in the remake, it's Will Smith being a cartoony Will Smith which also allows him to be unique in his portrayal with his charm and delivering a good amount of humor that is actually funny.
I'll even give credit to most of the actors as well for doing a pretty good job on their roles like Mena Massoud as Aladdin. Granted they don't let out their full potential to the levels of their animated counterparts, but that less has to do with the actors and more at fault from the writing and the weak directing. Outside of that, most of the actors do well with the materials that they're given...but none of them and not even Will Smith is able to outshine one significant person whose performance is able to meet to the standards of the original feature. If there's one reason that can justify this remake's existence, it's Naomi Scott as Jasmine...for the first time in a Disney live-action remake, we got a princess that's actually good! So far, the ones we've got right now have acting and singing skills that range from a plank of wood with Aurora from 'Maleficent' to a short-circuiting robot with Belle from 'Beauty And The Beast'. But with Scott's Jasmine, she's like a breath of fresh air that now there's an actress that actually does care and put effort in portraying not just a Disney character but what many consider to be a role model-while she is a princess, what she wants most is to have her own freedom and to travel the world letting her voice be heard instead of serving to be an authority of men. With Naomi Scott's performance, it made it all feel believable and present that there is a lot more to her royal status.
But of course since this is Disney's 'Aladdin', you can't get out of this without talking about the songs...and in terms of this remake's rendition of them, I'll admit that they're alright with the most that I would criticize is that the visuals don't capture the same amount of high energy as the animated film because of the weak directing. But on their own, they do have some changes in the lyrics or enhance the theme to have them either sound more Arabic or give more of a hip hop flair to make it more accustomed to Will Smith's music style...other than that, they mostly stay true to the original versions making them at the very least decent on their own except for one since there is one new song made for the remake called 'Speechless' made by the same songwriters behind 'La La Land' and 'The Greatest Showman' and it turned out to be the weakest of the film. Hear me out: I love the idea of giving Jasmine an entire musical number that has a meaningful message and Naomi Scott is also a great singer, it's just that with 'Speechless' like with many of the works from those songwriters...the execution makes it feel soulless like it was corporately crafted to make it sound like any other pop song you've heard on the radio resulting in it feeling bland and easily forgettable.
There is one thing however that could potentially be a make-or-break deal for those who are possibly interested in checking this movie out: in the remake of 'Aladdin', ninety five percent of it is actually a shot-for-shot remake of what the original animated film already did...there is almost no difference at all between the remake of the movie and the animated film, they both pretty much have the exact same story-in fact, I would say that the biggest difference between the remake and the animated film is that the remake is in live-action and that is pretty much it. Now there are some people who might hear this and could consider that a good thing because that would actually make it a lot easier to go and recapture and relive the magic of the original 1992 film while others and based on my experience from watching the movie would actually go and sit in the theater to watch the film asking themselves why there are sitting there watching this movie when they could save money sitting at home watching the animated film so that they could literally have the exact same experience...that's probably the biggest problem with the remake of 'Aladdin' since it feels like the writing just took the script of the animated film while making a few slight adjustments considering it as an entirely new movie on its own resulting in the remake to feel hollow.'
Overall, the live-action remake of 'Aladdin' is a movie that exemplifies the saying 'be careful what you wish for' where it does deliver a live-action version of the 1992 animated classic film but it also comes with its set of burdens: the costumes are really nice, but the visual wonder is gone replacing it with a colorless environment and unimpressive CGI...it features great performances by Naomi Scott and Will Smith, but at the cost of a classic villain that's now weak...it stays true to its source material, but so much so that it makes it nearly pointless and whatever new addition it tries to include either end up feeling forgettable or irritating. As for my rating being someone who holds the animated classic close to my heart, there is a lot of factors with this mixed bag...but I think it ultimately results in the live-action remake of 'Aladdin' getting a 5.5 out of 10