Disney cartoons in the 90s were the stuff of magic, and the foundation of my love for their movies. The animated adventures and their accompanying soundtracks were able to permanently embed themselves in my mind, heart and soul defining what Walt's imagination established years ago. Then came the live action versions and things started getting mixed up in the modern day of representation, realism, and trying to spin these tales in a way of being new/yet familiar. There have been plenty of ups and downs, but they have found their place and tonight they try another milestone with big shoes, or in this case sandals/moccasins to fill. Can it work? That's where I come in to give my insights as we check out:
Movie: Aladdin (2019)
John August (screenplay by), Guy Ritchie (screenplay by)
Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott
Core Story Present
Nice Visual Effects
Take On Genie
Some Of The Songs
Not Enough Exploration Of The World
Rushed At times
Missing Some Of The Character Charm
The Anticlimactic Jafar Fight
The political Messages
Some of the Other Songs
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Let's put it out there, Aladdin cartoons have set much up for quality in many ways, and yours truly is a big fan of it. Yet this spin on it managed in a way to accomplish the goal of appeasing many audience members. Guy Ritchie's take on it holds the core story with the nostalgia nicely baked in making sure to hit the highlights of each moment with a new visual style. The reimagined world holds nice visual effects and some beautiful attention to detail in the infusion of cultures bringing the beloved cartoon to life and making it semi realistic. Yet, when some people recreated these wonders, the magic of the film is lost to the darker tale and grittier atmosphere, sort of draining the enchantments the cartoon films held. Fortunately, Ritchie and his crew succeeded in keeping the funny and cute moments in tact primarily in the form of clever one liners, Will Smith's take on the genie, and relationship of Abu and Carpet, the former of which you want to adopt. Yet the film also succeeds in bringing those relationships we love to life and somehow putting some new charms to it, to help them stand out. Mena Massoud has the charm, naivety and wonder that Aladdin held to be the adventurous lad. Naomi Scott's voice and strong attitude pave a new Jasmine that will speak to the modern female audience, yet also enchant others. As for Will Smith, he makes the Genie his own character familiar yet also different to not attempt to copy the late William's work. His take was fun, almost like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air meeting Disney and it worked beautifully for me, primarily in the chemistry between him and Massoud (very touching at times). And as for the music, while not quite the same as the 90's songs in terms of energy, some of the tracks have their new spin work out well that is a blend of old and new and having charisma, my favorite being a Whole New World and Friend Like Me. New Songs by Jasmine though might be my favorite though, a new addition that fits well, delivers the messages, and showcases the Scott's wonderful voice.
Yet for all the good there are some things still lacking for me. First the world that they made was not explored enough like the original version, reduced to feeling like a close set instead of the epic kingdom of Agrabah and the Arabian desert. In fact, the movie feels very rushed at times, with the opening ran very quickly, that in no time we are at the cave of wonders instead of the buildup I was expecting. This pace sort of robs the charm of the world and characters, sometimes getting lost in the all the new political moves and new gimmicks in place of the story telling. For me this was especially true for the take on Jafar. In terms of looks, it get realism, and ambitions it is there, but this Jafar did not quite have the devious nature of the traditional villain. That suave, sophisticated and cunning air, was lost to grandiosity and whining rather than that meticulous planning of the wise wizard. And when it came time to fight him, well the anticlimactic moments were lost again to new themes and takes, including the design of his genie form. Much of these limitations came from shoving the political components into the mix that were both endearing and then forced/beaten over the head. The Dream Big Princess movement is alive and while respectable did not feel like it should have been as large a focus. As for the other songs, many of the tracks did not have the same flow, energy, and agreement with the scene like the movie, the new take changing the pace and energy of the scene that did not fit as well with the scene.
Overall, Aladdin's live remake is one of the better ones for me because it tried to accomplish blending nostalgia and yet being different to not compete with the classics. I had fun with this film, loved the relationships and acting between groups, the dynamics with CGI and some of those songs that took me to a whole new world. Yet, the movie just did not explore the Agrabah as much as I wanted, rushing through various moments to not be quite as complete or suspenseful of an adventures that the 90s version held. It's that lack of scenes, songs, and acting all working together that is probably the biggest miss for me, and while not awful, was not to the full extent it could have been. Still, the film is worth a visit and appropriate for most little ones given much of the fear inducing scenes have been removed. Overall my scores are:
Movie Overall 7.0
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