Guy Ritchie’s live-action remake of Aladdin doesn’t deliver a ‘whole new world’, but provides an entertaining magic carpet ride for fans of all ages.
The original Aladdin is one of the most beloved animated films ever, surpassed in popularity only by The Lion King, which is incidentally set for a July release. This new Aladdin is also about a poor ‘street rat’ who comes into possession of a magic lamp and a magic carpet, summons a big blue genie, and embarks on a scheme to win the heart of the beautiful princess and foil the bad guy’s generic plans.
While the story is faithfully adapted, Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin is not just an upgrade with fancy CGI visuals. It has added more depth and modern sensibilities, nowhere more evident than in Princess Jasmine’s character. A stunning Naomi Scott transcends clichéd feminist tropes and helps drive home a strong message about equality, underscored by her brilliant rendition of Speechless.
Massoud shines in his happy-go-lucky titular role, but is overshadowed by Naomi Scott in the musical segments. Will Smith is a scene stealer as the Genie, at least during the times when he’s allowed to play the character in human form. His camaraderie with Aladdin is endearing, while his romantic subplot surprisingly works well against all odds. It’s rather unfortunate that the villainous vizier’s character feels so flat and perfunctory that even his CGI parrot seems to display more personality in comparison to the movie’s big bad.
Aladdin is a visual treat as befitting a Disney movie, with plenty of great choreography and colorful action, set against the backdrop of shining deserts, shimmering streets and splendid costuming. Despite never breaking new ground, Aladdin still remains an entertaining magic carpet ride for fans of all ages.