The Walt Disney Company’s quest to turn all of its animated classics into live-action feature films continues with its latest installment of Aladdin, an adaptation of the 1992 film of the same title. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film features Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott as Aladdin and Jasmine, with Will Smith playing the iconic Genie.
The adaptation follows the original story quite closely – a young thief named Aladdin encounters a powerful Genie who can grant him three wishes. Aladdin must keep the Genie and his lamp out of the hands of the evil sorcerer Jafar, all while he tries to win the affections of the kingdom’s princess, Jasmine.
First off, it has to be said that this movie looks amazing! Most of the key scenes in Aladdin were shot on set at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England, and the film crew definitely went the extra mile with turning chilly England into a fantastical desert kingdom, from detailed sets to lush costuming.
The visual effects were also extremely well done, particularly on the various animal sidekicks. Aladdin’s pet monkey Abu especially manages to strike a great balance between photorealism and cartoony exaggeration. The various musical numbers have also been reinterpreted as colourful, elaborately choreographed dance numbers, which at times makes the movie feel almost like a Western interpretation of a Bollywood film.
On the human side of things, leads Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott do their best with the material they’re given, though Will Smith is definitely the star of the show. After a string of more serious roles in films like After Earth and Netflix’s Bright, it’s refreshing to see the veteran actor embrace his comedic side once more.
In short, the 2019 version of Aladdin is a decent family film that will satisfy your nostalgia for classic Disney… if you haven’t seen the original since it was first released. If you’re a die-hard Disney stan who knows the original film word for word, you might walk out of the cinema feeling a little disappointed though.
Unlike recent adaptations like Dumbo, there aren’t any new storylines or perspectives that add a fresh spin to the tale, while the minor changes that are made mostly feel bland and even out of place. Plus, despite the incredible detail Disney managed to pack into the visual effects of this film, it’s still difficult to capture the life and energy of hand-drawn animation with photorealistic CGI, which might be offputting to those who yearn for the glory days of Disney’s 2D animation style.
Our verdict? Wait to catch it on Netflix in a few months if you’re curious -but fans of the original might want to stick to re-watching the classic instead.