Disney’s sure getting good at live-action remakes – or at the very least, prolific!
It’s fast becoming their latest formula, with reimagined childhood classics like Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, Mary Poppins Returns – and now, Aladdin. The Lion King is coming this year, too.
For the audience who watched the original 27 years ago, much of the story will be familiar: ‘street-rat’ Aladdin (Mena Massoud) falls for Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), and uses the power of a genie (Will Smith) to make himself a prince, and thus eligible to marry her. Along the way, the genie teaches Aladdin a lesson or two about where the true character of a prince really comes from, and why singing is the best way to process significant life milestones (that’s why they sing, right?).
“Will Smith brings that ‘Fresh Prince’ soul to the Genie, and makes the movie his own.”
When the cast was announced, fans were dubious as to whether or not Will Smith’s genie could really compete with Robin Williams’. There were also faint cries of horror at the prospect of seeing Will all big and blue.
While no one can compete with Mrs. Doubtfire, thankfully it seems that matching up to Robin Williams isn’t what Will tried to do. Yes, he has to act out similar scenes and songs, but he brings that ‘Fresh Prince’ soul to them, and makes the movie his own. The genie’s also more humanised throughout 2019’s Aladdin, so your blue nightmares should be abated.
- Tim Burton’s “Dumbo”: Spectacular, But a Little Melancholy [Movie Review]
- Mary Poppins Returns – An Emily Blunt-Style Lesson in the Power of Perspective – [Movie Review]
A Modernised Jasmine, A Better-Dressed Genie
Bearing in mind the modern audience, director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur) also threw in some extra songs for Jasmine, accentuating her desire as a woman to break free from the traditional constraints of Princess life. Adapted from the Aladdin musical that emerged in 2011 the new songs are catchy, and cement Jasmine’s character as one with depth and dreams of her own.
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You may also note Aladdin’s wearing a little more clothes than his pec-bearing cartoon counterpart, which costume designer Michael Wilkinson said was very intentional.
“We thought it wasn’t appropriate for Princess Jasmine to be flashing her belly button for half of the film… you really have to make some adjustments.”
“For the same reason why we thought it wasn’t appropriate for Princess Jasmine to be flashing her belly button for half of the film, we also felt that once you make that leap from cartoon into live-action, you really have to make some adjustments,” Wilkinson explained to Entertainment Weekly. “We thought having so much skin showing on Aladdin for the whole film would be quite distracting on a human actor as opposed to a cartoon character.”
So, with fresh songs, fresh costumes, and a little hip-hop spice, Aladdin is a remake with an identity of its own. For parents who take children along, you’ll enjoy the nostalgia, and for the new audience you’ll enjoy a colourful story about love, friendship, and character trumping accolades every time.
Oh, and for those who had a ‘cartoon crush’ on Aladdin—don’t you worry, Egyptian born Mena Massoud does him proud.