Disney’s Aladdin (2019) is a vibrant live-action adaptation of the animated classic, bringing to life the tale of young man Aladdin, the self-determined princess Jasmine and the almighty Genie who is the key to their future.
Starring Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott and Will Smith, Aladdin is the latest film by director Guy Ritchie whilst Alan Menken provides the score, including new recordings of the original songs written by himself and lyricists Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.
In a perfect world, the late Robin Williams may have more than likely reprised his shape-shifting blue entity that is the Genie from the 1992 original movie, but leaving the legend behind, we all knew Smith had big shoes to fill. An actor with tremendous range was needed for the reprisal; someone who could play funny and dramatic, who could be emotional and yet entertain, and Smith liked the idea of re-inventing the character and making it his own.
“Once we sat down and Guy (Ritchie) explained he wanted to make the story more authentic and put it in more of a realistic space, I was in,” he said.
“Williams did an absolutely brilliant job of the film (1992), and it’s such a memorable performance, and for me, when I’m looking at a role I ask myself, ‘Is there any meat left on the bone? What is it I could add to the role?’
“One of the major aspects was going from animation to live action and the idea of being able to pay homage to the original character and to honour Robin, while at the same time giving a new voice to modernise the Genie…there was the potential to create something that did both of those things.”
If ever there is a film where you want to escape the realities of the everyday world, Aladdin is your ticket to get there.
The story lends itself well to live action with its timeless themes about love, power and embracing who you are, and those in the background who brought it all to life are to be truly commended. Including production designer Gemma Jackson, who won an Emmy for her production design work on Game of Thrones; she was tasked with bringing Agrabah to life, in creating a gateway to the Eastern world with a vibrant array of colours, cultures and sounds.
With a lot to live up to, the casting of Aladdin (Massoud) and Jasmine (Scott) was perfection – both looking the parts and taking on their roles as guided by Ritchie. Unlike this year’s Dumbo, which kept to its original story but then extended it by adding more to it, Aladdin sees very little change from the animation. The only big changes are a few new songs written by Menken and songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
The only reservation I had was the CGI not looking right, but the humour embedded within the story more than made up for it – including a little romantic banter between Genie and Jasmine’s handmaid Dalia (Nasim Pedrad).
Aladdin flies in on a magical carpet on May 23.
Review: 4 out of 5 stars
Production: Disney Studios