I have an extremely mixed relationship with Disney live-action remakes. There are some I absolutely love (like Cinderella from 2015 and Alice in Wonderland from 2010). And then there are the ones I was extremely disappointed with (like Beauty and the Beast from 2017 and Maleficent from 2014). So when I heard that they were making a remake of Aladdin, I tried to keep my expectations rather low and ignore more of the controversy/rumors. I find that when it comes to remakes, most people look for things to criticize, bringing negativity to the film even before they see it.
When I saw the first trailer, I had mixed feelings. The movie looked beautiful, especially Jasmine’s costumes and I liked most of the casting choices. But when the movie came out, I heard a lot of mixed reviews. So I decided to watch it and see what I thought.
And, overall, I enjoyed it. It’s much better then the Beauty and the Beast remake, though I didn’t love all the changes.
Before I get into the review, I’m going to give a strong:
Right…let’s get into this.
I thought all the actors did an amazing job, though I honestly thought some of them were miscast or played unnecessary roles.
Jafar was the worst miscast actor I have seen in years. Don’t get me wrong, Marwan Kenzari is a great actor and he tried his best in this role. But he is neither intimidating nor scary. I found myself laughing every time he tried threatening anyone. You can change many things, but a high voice and an un-intimidating face are not among them. I mean, does this face really look threatening?
Saying that, there were a lot of cast members I went into assuming I wouldn’t like and ended up loving.
I had reservations of seeing the Genie as Will Smith. Don’t get me wrong, I love Will Smith, I just didn’t think he could pull off this role. But I thought he did an amazing job. It is nearly impossible to follow in the shoes of someone like Robin Williams, but he did an admirable try. They even added some jokes not in the original movie. Also, though Will Smith isn’t the best singer, I thought he delivered his musical songs quite well (with only minor auto-tune).
I had never seen Mena Massoud in anything, but I really enjoyed him as Aladdin. He plays a much more vulnerable character to the more cocky Aladdin from the original, but I thought he presented a good combination of streetsmart and kind.
Similarly, I loved Naomi Scott as Jasmine. I imagined her hair to be puffier…weird, I know, but it’s super puffy in the carton movie. But I loved her outfits and she acted really well. I wasn’t as much of a fan of her character, but that was more the writers’ fault and not the actress’s.
Basically, the acting was all great.
So, let’s talk about the plot. There are quite a few things added in this movie and some taken away. And, honestly, I disliked most of the changes.
First, the sultan is a completely bland character. In the cartoon, he was fun-loving, a bit bumbling but good-hearted, and loved his daughter. In this one, he’s in the background doing nothing until the plot needs him (usually to tell his daughter what she can’t do or tell her to marry a prince). I just wish the movie utilized him as a person more.
Second, the added romance between Jasmine’s handmaiden Dalia and the Genie. Yes, you heard me right, and it’s super awkward. I felt as if it added nothing to the plot and, though I loved Nasim Pedrad’s acting, you could have gotten rid of her character with nothing lost to the story. She felt so unnecessary. I like the idea of the movie formatted as a story told by the Genie to his kids, but the romance part just felt bizarre.
Third, let’s talk about Jasmine. I was so confused about her character’s motivation. In the original, all she wanted was her freedom. To marry who she liked, to leave the palace, see the world, etc. In this one, she wants all that, but she also wants to be sultan. Am I the only idiot that thought in the original cartoon she was going to be sultana, though this movie made a big deal that she can’t be because she’s a girl. The problem with this is that the two motivations are contrary to each other. Freedom is one thing and gaining power/a crown is another. Plus, doesn’t that make her motivation the same as Jafar, even though he is presented as the villian? My point is that I was really confused by her character. If the writers wanted to change her motivation, that’s fine. But you can’t then have her still want the same things she did in the original, while wanting the throne.
Also, every man seemed stereotypically against her becoming the ruler. Is she not the only child of the sultan, and thus is his only heir? Why is it weird to have her take the throne? Would she not automatically become Sultana? Did the writers not think of how many sultanas rules thrones in the world? Like Khadijah of the Maldives and Taj ul-Alam of Aceh. Yes, it was uncommon for women to rule, but not unheard of. And yet this show treats it like it’s against tradition. I was just so confused by this addition.
Saying that, I do love Jasmine’s new song Speechless, though it didn’t really fit well into the story. I’ve already listened to the song dozens of times and it doesn’t get old.
Finally, my last confusion was the rules of being a genie. So Jafar wishes to be a genie and goes from human to genie. The Genie is freed by Aladdin and turns into a human. Does that mean that all genies are humans that wished to be genies? In the original movie, the Genie was still a genie even after he was freed, but in this one I was so confused on the rules of what constituted a genie and how they came into existence.
I know I sounded a little ranty in this review, but I did really enjoy the movie (I just tend to tear apart everything I watch/read…I’m a writer, what can I say?). The parkour scenes were amazing. The computer graphics were great. The monkey and tiger were adorable. The scenes of the city were beautiful!
While the movie wasn’t perfect, it was a solid live-action remake. It had a few minor weaknesses, but it’s really enjoyable if you don’t pick it apart as much as I do.
Have you watched this movie? Or seen a trailer? Does it look good to you? Also, if you saw it and disagreed with anything I liked/disliked, I’d love to hear your opinion. Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,