Verdict: Guy Ritchie has brought to life a timeless story that is still as enchanting as ever.
In 1992, Disney released Aladdin and not only was it nominated for five Oscars and won two, but it also became a beloved hit. Now, there is a live-action adaptation that brings the animated characters to life in a whole new world that’s not only a nostalgic homage but also has some interesting additions.
What’s Aladdin About:
In a faraway land of Agrabah, the street rat Aladdin (Mena Massoud) falls in love with Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). Meanwhile, the Sultan (Navid Neghaban) is worried that his daughter is not going to find a prince who will become the next ruler. Little does he know that his Vizier Jafar (Marwan Kanzari) has his sights on the crown and has tricked Aladdin into getting a lamp from the Cave of Wonders which holds a Genie (Will Smith) that will grant him three wishes. When Aladdin accidentally frees the Genie, he gets the chance to transform himself into Prince Ali and win the heart of Jasmine.
While the live-action version of Aladdin has much of the story from the original, the script that is co-written by director Guy Ritchie and John August adds a lot of new elements that make the story more suited to modern audiences.
Aladdin and Jasmine also get to spend a lot more time together than they did in the original. Mena Massoud is charming both as the street rat Aladdin who can parkour his way through the streets of Agrabah and as the stately, if awkward, Prince Ali of Ababwa. Naomi Scott portrays the reinvented Princess Jasmine well and she even gets quite a few moments to shine. She is no longer simply a princess who has to marry a prince before time runs out, but rather, her goal is to do what is best for the people of Agrabah. She gets a new solo, Speechless, which fits right in with the compositions from the animated classic.
Genie has more motivations too. He still wants freedom from the servitude of the lamp but he also has a love interest in Jasmine’s handmaiden, Dalia (Nasim Pedrad), who herself gets quite a few laughs. Will Smith manages to add his own flair to Genie by attempting to be more human. Genie and Aladdin also get more chances to hash out what they want to do and provide an added emphasis on the central themes of friendship and being true to yourself. Another new character is Prince Anders (Billy Magnussen), a European royalty who has come seeking Jasmine’s hand.
Marwan Kenzari‘s Jafar is quite different from the original but he’s still creepy and villainous. He evens gets a bit of a backstory that explains his hunger for power. Alan Tudyk, who voices the parrot Iago, makes a clever henchbird. The leader of the guards – Hakim, played by Numan Acar – also gets more identity than just being one to blindly follow orders.
The songs are done well and the animated extravagance has been swapped for realistic CGI lavishness and nice choreography. There is also a lot more action and you’ll be seeing more of what makes Aladdin a crafty thief. Abu and Rajah get as real as a monkey and a tiger could be while also having some personality.
What Could’ve Been Better:
A few scenes seem a bit abrupt and among the new characters, some may find Jafar less menacing. Prince Anders is also underused and does not have a large part to play in the story.
Why You Should Watch:
If you are a fan of the original Disney classic and love the characters, you will be delighted to see how their roles have been expanded. The new Aladdin is an entertaining ride with lots of dazzling displays of magic, humor, and heartfelt emotions that are going to charm you. This tale of the street rat, the princess, and the magic lamp remains a great watch for all ages.