Pros: Fantastically beautiful scenery and costumes; grandiose musical numbers; acting work of Will Smith, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott; new image of Princess Jasmine Cons: Some questions about the computer graphics of Aladdin / “Aladdin”
Genre fairy tale
Directed by Guy Ritchie
Cast: Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Naomi Scott (Princess Jasmine), Will Smith (Genie), Marwan Kenzari (Jafar), Nasim Pedrad (Dalia), Navid Negahban (Sultan), Billy Magnussen (Prince Anders), Numan Ajar (Hakim) ) and etc.
Walt Disney Pictures Studios, Rideback
Year of release 2019
I have very mixed feelings about the live-action versions of Disney cartoons. I didn’t really like Alice Through the Looking Glass and The Jungle Book, although the latter adaptation is definitely better than Andy Serkis’ Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. I wasn’t impressed by Burton’s version of Dumbo, but I was charmed by the fantastically beautiful Beauty and the Beast.
I have the same difficult relationship with the work of Guy Ritchie. I love Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000), but I’m skeptical about the Downey Jr. Sherlockians. I like The Man from UNCLE, but King Arthur: Legend of the Sword seemed too choppy and unconvincing.
Well, Aladdin 2019 seems to have managed to reconcile your humble servant with both the film versions of Disney cartoons and the work of Guy Ritchie. Perhaps because there is not so much Richie in this film – the source material and the settings of the trademark owners did not leave room for the director’s vision. However, Richie’s hand is still felt in working with live scenery, staging stunts, and in the final editing of the film.
Filming of Aladdin took place in Britain and Jordan, and the Jordanian royal family assisted in the work on the film. To recreate the screen Agrabah using natural materials, huge real sets were built and this is clearly visible, for example, in the chase scene. The prototype of the city in the cartoon was Baghdad; in the film version, the influence of Moroccan, Persian, Indian and Turkish architecture is visible.
I won’t retell the plot; everyone knows the story of how the thief Aladdin, Princess Jasmine and Genie met. In the new version, to please the star Will Smith, the role of the Genie was rewritten, and he became at the same time even more eccentric and extravagant, and more humane. Despite the fears of the “Internet warriors,” Will Smith got into his character perfectly, although in some places he draws a little more attention to himself than he would like. However, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott do an excellent job in their roles and restrain Smith’s appetites.
Naomi Scott, whose choice for the role of Jasmine also had certain questions, turned out to be a wonderful Persian princess of the new generation. Her character was slightly modernized and rewritten – the smart and beautiful Jasmine also gained her own ambitions and, to be honest, I personally like this princess better. And how gorgeous Jasmine’s costumes are… you need to see it.
In general, the work of the decorators and costume designers deserves the highest praise; they really managed to recreate the atmosphere of an oriental fairy tale, making it almost tangible. Aladdin is an incredibly beautiful film and it’s not all about computer graphics, although it certainly couldn’t be done without it.
Actually, the CG itself evokes conflicting emotions. The same Abu, Iago and the Flying Carpet are made at an incredible level, but there are certain complaints about the animation of the Genie, especially in the first scene in the Cave; in some places it resembles graphics from video games of the mid-2000s. In addition, in some chase scenes there are clearly visible traces of fast-forward playback.
And, of course, music and dance numbers, this is a Disney film after all. The original soundtrack of the 1992 cartoon has been remastered. Some of the compositions received a new arrangement, some were rewritten for new performers, for example, the same Prince Ali number was adapted for Will Smith, and new lyrics were written for the song Arabian Nights. The Friend Like Me theme has also been reworked. Plus, new numbers appeared in the remake, for example, the amazing solo part of Speechless performed by Naomi Scott. Yes, all the compositions in the film are translated into Ukrainian, which is logical for a children’s film, but does not benefit the integrity of the numbers. Well, this is a great reason to listen to the original soundtrack and later watch the film in the original language.
As for the dance numbers, I don’t know whether Guy Ritchie hired consultants from Bollywood or just carefully watched Indian films, but the numbers turned out to be literally explosive and incredibly bright. The Prince Ali number, for example, featured 250 dancers and 200 extras, and the giant camel Ali rode on was made of real flowers. An incredible spectacle, I don’t think we’ll see anything more grandiose in the cinema anytime soon. However, the film has enough excellent compositions and scenes, the same Friend Like Me at the beginning and at the end of the film, or both versions of Speechless.
I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but now I’m looking forward to more Disney movie adaptations. And it looks like their number will soon exceed the number of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since 2010, 9 live-action Disney films have already been released, and there are two dozen more titles on the planned list. The Lion King (2019), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019), Mulan (2020), Cruella (2020), Robin Hood, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lilo & Stitch, The Little Mermaid, Tinker Bell, Charming, Rose Red, The Jungle Book 2. Plus, Lady and the Tramp (2019), The Sword in the Stone and Peter Pan will be filmed especially for the Disney streaming service.
We hope there will still be room on this list for Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves. Personally, I will once again look with great pleasure at the collaboration of Will Smith, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott.
A superb film adaptation that outshines the original 1992 Aladdin.