Aladdin (2019)

Length: 2hr 8

Rating: PG

Release date: 22nd May 2019

About: Aladdin is a lovable street urchin who meets Princess Jasmine, the beautiful daughter of the sultan of Agrabah. While visiting her exotic palace, Aladdin stumbles upon a magic oil lamp that unleashes a powerful, wisecracking, larger-than-life genie. As Aladdin and the genie start to become friends, they must soon embark on a dangerous mission to stop the evil sorcerer Jafar from overthrowing young Jasmine’s kingdom.

The Good

Every change they made, was for the better. Every little nod to the animated was sincere and heartfelt.

Will Smith was just perfect as Genie. It would not be fair to compare his performance because he never set out to replace or ‘beat’ Robin Williams, Smith just gave us a whole new Genie: one that can stand beside the other. Yes, there are lines that will be on the tip of your tongue and you might feel a loss, but it has to be remembered that they were trademarked Williams the moment he uttered them.

Mena Massoud And Naomi Scott Make fair real life Aladdin and Jasmine. However, the true magic of their performances comes from their chemistry. They’re given more time to get to know each other, grow to like each other and discover common ground.

Jasmine’s song and Jasmine on the whole is a much stronger Princess and one who is able to break the ‘saviour’ trope.

The Bad

It is a little too long. There’s an extra hour added to this from the animation and I would say it needs to be half an hour shorter. I’m not sure if it is how long it takes to get to the cave, if there are sections that slow the pace or if it was just the restless children in the screening I was in, but something needs cutting.

The Ugly

This isn’t the film, but a viewer response to casting. Jasmine was portrayed by Naomi Scott Who is of Gujarati and British decent. However, In this screwed up world she’s been blasted for ‘not being brown enough’.

I’m so saddened that upon researching the original film, I discovered more articles about Naomi Scott’s casting than Linda Larkin, who is white.

This is a beautiful woman who would not be out of place. If she’s not ‘brown’ enough for this role, does that mean she’s not ‘white’ enough for others or is she only allowed to go for roles that call for someone that is mixed race?! Why is it that she’s judged on the colour of her skin alone rather than her amazing performance?

Film Review: Aladdin (1992)

Length: 1Hr 30

Rating: U

Release: 17th November 1992

About: When street rat Aladdin frees a genie from a lamp, he finds his wishes granted. However, he soon finds that the evil has other plans for the lamp — and for Princess Jasmine. But can Aladdin save Princess Jasmine and his love for her after she sees that he isn’t quite what he appears to be?

First things first

This was my birthday movie for 1992. My neighbour went to see it just before Christmas and invited me, but I was a tool and turned the offer down under the argument of ‘it’s my birthday movie’. I was very surprised when my dad picked this to watch, but I suspect it’s because he wants to watch the new one that’s about to be released and can’t get to the cinema.

The Good

• Robin Williams marked a change in animation. Yes, Angela Lansbury had leant her vocal talents to Mrs Potts the year before, but she had always been part of the Disney stable and I would argue her box office potential. Williams brought about the start of employing box office stars to headline animations. What a choice it was?! There’s been so much talk about the upcoming live-action release and that’s centred around the casting of the Genie. How can anyone replace someone who made the role iconic?!

• It’s not only Williams’ familiar tones that we all love, it’s his humour that has adults and children alike belly laughing. The imitations and nods to pop culture are perfect and make sure that adults feel invested in the film too.

• The music is delightful and I think I prefer it to The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. It has a happy beat, reminiscent of Jungle Book that you will always hum for hours after finishing the film. My personal favourite is Prince Ali. The only shame is that the songs are front heavy and we only get a brief reprise and reworking of Prince Ali at the climax.

• My favourite characters will always be Abu, the monkey and the carpet! I love the humour gained from both. I would say the Carpet is the precursor to BB-8; cute but sassy.

The Bad

• There are a few scenes that are using the high tech computer graphics. Only problem is, that what was high tech in 1992 no longer looks the case. As a result, the escape from the cave of wonders and some of the palace doesn’t blend as well with the rest of the traditional animation. It is perhaps why it’s not long before the Mouse House trade in traditional methods for a consistent computer created approach.

The Ugly

• It’s very Hollywood and very white washed. While the story is, without a doubt, perfect this was one of the animations in Disney Vault that should be given the makeover treatment. The animations are perhaps ‘culture neutral’, however when you see that most of the voices are produced by white Americans, it’s hard to deny it’s a little questionable. It’s certainly enough for me to feel a little uncomfortable and welcome the new live action.

(Side bar): I find it quite interesting how many people of ethnic origins are voicing white characters in animations. I’m not sure where I stand on this; should it go with the ‘no straight actor should play a gay character’? It’s something I want to consider further, but surely if I’m offended by Anthony Hopkins black facing Othello, this is of a similar ilk?

Final Thoughts

Casting aside, this is a perfect animated classic; funny, action packed and with a good hearted protagonist.