OK. I needed to give myself a few days to really make up my mind on how I felt about this one… After much thinking… I like it.
Jasmine: Let’s start with the MVP of this film. Naomi Scott as Jasmine steals the show. Her costumes, her delivery, her original song- she nails it all. We have seen with previous live-action Disney adaptations the moves to modernize the female characters. Jasmine is no different for this movie.
It wasn’t until seeing Naomi Scott’s performance that I realized how crappy Jasmine’s role was in the original? She is the legitimate child of the sultan but she has no claim to the throne! She has to marry a prince of a foreign land so HE can rule Agrabah. The F#$@#% is that?!
This Jasmine has more ambition than just the idea of her freedom to choose. She wants to do right by the people of her city and she wants to rule because it’s, well, her right!
I was skeptical about the original song, but I think it was good! Thumbs up to Naomi Scott for her performance.
Costume Design: As already lightly mentioned, the costumes in this movie were FANTASTIC. We’re all fans of the original. We’ve all seen it. I wanted to know what the costumes for that magic carpet ride were going to look like!
I LOVE what they did with the Prince Ali look. The white on gold was perfection. Jasmine’s dress. UGH. Wonderfully creative using the skin tone on the corset to get the idea of the original animated movie across.
Will Smith: Let’s talk about the blue elephant in the room. Will Smith did just FINE. I want to get out of the way that kudos to this actor for making it a point to make it about creating an original experience with the character.
His musical performances were just FINE. He added his own touches to them which worked great. I loved the scene in the throne room where they’re meeting princess Jasmine for the first time. It had that great Will Smith humor that worked wonderfully.
Yes, the CGI of him in Genie mode at parts was a little wonky, but it was forgivable for me. Overall, the genie was not the LVP. More on that later.
The Music: When I saw the movie I admit I wasn’t feeling the new iterations of the songs. Over the weekend I came to find that this was because I have been glued for the last three decades to the originals. It’s tough to open your heart to new performances!
That being said, I think Will Smith did great with the extended version of “Arabian Night.” “Friend Like Me” was done wonderfully, and I grew to love the version of “Prince Ali”. Oh, and yes, “A Whole New World” was lovely EVEN THOUGH it was not my favorite of the bunch.
As mentioned before, The Jasmine original “Speechless” came across really strong and I feel it solidified Naomi Scott’s performance as the strongest in the film.
Aladdin: The titular character and yes, he’s coming in on the list last. Look, he did good! I have no complaints about him! I just don’t think he was the strongest in the ensemble. I do give him credit for how well his chemistry came across with Naomi Scott. I was smiling every time they were together on screen. Fortunately, that was for a good chunk of the movie.
Animals: This is neither here not there, however I have to highlight that one of the weakest elements of the film had to be our animal characters- Abu and Iago. Iago had such a voice and presence in the original version and this rendition was very much just a typical talking parrot. No personality. I could say similar for Abu.
More than creating consequences for this film it just made me nervous for the new Lion King coming out this summer. THESE two side characters had trouble emoting and creating anything close to the performances of the originals. Will that movie have an equal issue? I digress.
Jafar: Now, let’s talk about the real weakness here. Marwan Kenzari is a beautiful man and a talented actor. I could see what he was bringing to the role. That being said, there was no hint of the original animated Jafar in this performance.
Kenzari is an Adonis. Jafar is the grossest sketchy gay men you have ever seen! None of the elements that made Jafar such a memorable villain were here. I won’t go too deep into it but I was hoping that AT LEAST we would get to see a cool interpretation of Jafar in genie mode. Nope. We got to see the Apollo body of Marwan Kenzari. I suppose the audience could be 50/50 on that?
Aladdin is more than just a fairy tale it’s sort of a heroes journey. Yet, a heroes journey is only as powerful as its villain. So, to have this be weakness did bring the film down a few notches.
The Scale- As much as I personally enjoyed the movie, and will likely rewatch it multiple times, there is no doubting that the scale didn’t live up to the animated version. The “Prince Ali” performance, Aladdin being banished to the ice, THE CAVE OF F@#%@ WONDERS, Jafar’s sorcery powers, and the entire third act. It felt like a high budget made for TV movie. Yet, I like me a good made for TV movie, ya’ll.
It could have done more! That is for sure. Yet, three wishes or not I don’t think there was any doubt that a live-action remake of the 90’s classic film would top the opening weekend box office.
Overall I give Aladdin a 3/5 Potatoes