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BY Liam Maguren Flicks Writer
Guy Ritchie's Aladdin reveals its limitations from the very start with opening song Arabian Nights proving Will Smith isn't a singer. Sure, he can hold a note, a compliment you'd give a pal during Cosplay Night at a karaoke bar. But for a blockbuster musical, Smith severely lacks range and projection. I don't want to be too hard on him here because, in every other area, he truly justifies his casting as Genie.
This couldn't be clearer than the absolutely outstanding rendition of Friend Like Me. Not only does it accommodate the Big Willie Style of non-singing, it visually goes full-on Doctor Strange with an eye-engulfing montage reminiscent of the animated original and excellent dance segments honouring the Broadway adaptation. I nearly applauded like a parent who just saw their 3-year-old pull off a triple backflip.
Both set-pieces, contrasting in quality, accurately depict how the film itself wobbles between lame and good. On the lame side, this live-action Jafar feels less like a serpent-tongued sorcerer and more like a snivelling accountant who feels self-entitled to a promotion—he's neither menacing nor fun to watch. The Sultan's no fun either, rendered to a mere just-say-the-lines role that leaves a lot to be desired.
Subdued characters don't suit the larger-than-life world of Agrabah, which is gorgeously constructed and dressed by a typically muscular Disney production house. Fortunately, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott feel right at home as Aladdin and Jasmine, delivering buoyant performances from start to finish.
And that brings us back to Genie. While the animated Aladdin crafted its wish-granter around Robin Williams's rocket-fuelled persona, this version runs with Will Smith's naturally chilled charisma. Singing aside, it's a welcomed change-up that brings this super charming Genie more to Aladdin's speed, allowing the pair to converse a little deeper with ideas surrounding privilege, genuineness, and that fact that—ya know—Genie's technically a slave and slavery's crap.
Jasmine's subplot gains a fair boost too, one that grants her more distinction as a leader of the people. (Some dudes may scream "That's not historically plausible!" at a film that sees a CGI monkey flying a magic carpet inside a sand lion.) She also gets a new song too blunt and generically pop for even Carly Rae Jepsen, but I hope you like the track since they play it twice.
Along with a completely different climax and the fact that it gives people of colour the spotlight, it's the modifications in Ritchie's enjoyable take on Aladdin that ultimately justifies its existence—even if it bends a few nails in the execution. With that said, it's disappointing they didn't use this opportunity to keep the accents consistent. It's distracting and very questionable to hear American-sounding Aladdin and Jasmine in a land otherwise populated with Arabic voices.
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BY aleanaf lister
The movie begins with a montage sequence as it goes through the city of Agrabah, as 'Arabian Night' plays. With the extra runtime, I'm surprised how much they cut down from the beginning of the film and rushed the meeting between Jasmine... More and Aladdin. Exposition is key to establishing key characters, and this breezed through it.
The characters Aladdin (played by Mena Massoud) and Jasmine (Naomi Scott) are admirable at best but were a bit 'vanilla'. Aladdin's cute and awkward nervousness were exaggerated a bit too much which didn't translate well in a live-action, however luckily still had some charming elements.
Jasmine was more fierce and the theme of 'female empowerment' was prevalent in the film which matched well to the confidence of actress Naomi Scott.
Jafar was bland and could have been so much more dark and evil as an overall character. Did not exactly enjoy the scenes with him.
Surprisingly, the Genie (Will Smith) was probably one of the best parts of the film despite being made into countless memes prior to the release. Although he does not beat Robin William's genie, it is a respectable attempt and made it his own to fit his own personality. Almost like if Will Smith combined Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Aladdin. Adding his own magical twists to songs such as 'Friend like Me' and 'Prince Ali'.
The storyline follows most of what consists of the original film with some added new scenes which shows a new perspective of the character. The cinematography is beautiful with enjoyable musical numbers. The SFX is great and was able to enhance the magical elements.
Wouldn't say it's as good as the original, but I'm not madHide
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