If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, I hear you cry! Yet another Disney remake that we didn’t really ask for, but here it is. Disney’s live action Aladdin opened in cinemas this week and people up and down the country are rediscovering this classic story of a street rat, a princess and a magical genie. I am not going to lie, Aladdin was one of my favourites when I was little, so personally I was thrilled when it was announced that there was going to be a live action remake. But I know that there were a lot of people out there that didn’t want it, because it was believed that they shouldn’t change what the late great Robin Williams did with the character of the genie. With Will Smith now in that famous role, and the trailers making him look more than a little bit creepy, no one was really sure what to expect, but he makes the part completely his own.
Aladdin is a story, that in my opinion, was always waiting for the chance to be created with all of the modern movie magic. A mythical world, full of colour, sparkle, dancing and magic, all created before your very eyes on a huge scale. Everything about this movie is larger than life, from the creation of Agrabah to the incredible cave of wonders. Agrabah is suddenly believable, you feel as if you could be walking through those narrow streets, weaving through the salespeople and watching Aladdin escape capture over the roof tops.
Mena Massoud takes to the role of Aladdin like a duck to water, with a boyish charm and a solid belief that he is destined to be more than people think he should be. Whilst his somewhat odd sleeveless hoodie seems a little out of place compared to the clothing of those around him, everything else about him suits the role from his awkwardness around Jasmine to his brotherly like relationship with genie. He also shows off some lovely vocals even though it would have been lovely to hear ‘Proud of your boy’ which sadly doesn’t make the cut. And now, about that Genie. Will Smith has never been short of character and flair and he brings all of that to this iconic role, full of energy and magic as he guides us through the story from the very beginning. His genie is new, it isn’t a copy. A few touching tributes don’t go unnoticed, but overall he brings a breath a fresh air to the screen and his comedic timing never misses a beat.
Princess Jasmine, I think, has always been a little bit different from the other Disney princesses. She never needed a prince to save her, but she found a love of her own. And now, this remake has taken this from the original and has transformed her into an icon of strength and passion. The sass from the original is now fire and passion. She knows what she desires, she listens to her heart and she uses that inner strength to correct the wrongs in her life. Jasmine, played brilliantly by Naomi Scott, even gets her own song to show off this side of her. ‘Speechless’ is an amazing song and an equally incredible moment, slotting into the story as if it was always there.
Every good Disney film needs a villain and Aladdin has a great one. Jafar is power hungry, powerful and dark. Marwan Kenzari plays him here, perhaps younger than we have seen him before but equally as villainous. He is willing to do whatever it takes, include lie, trick and kill. His downfall, full of the darkest of magic and twisted wishes, is a brilliant cinematic moment.
Part of the wonder and the charm of the original movie were the animal sidekicks, Abu the monkey and Raja the tiger and it was wonderful to see them in all of their live action glory here. Abu is a cheeky pickpocketing rogue who both helps and hinders Aladdin throughout the story whilst Raja is the fierce beast who is a lovable pussy cat deep down. Then, of course, comical Iago is back in parrot form who takes on a monstrous form to huge effect. It was also great to see the magic carpet as a true character, a true part of the story rather than just a prop for that famous big musical moment.
The costumes in this film are a sight to behold. All of the colours of the rainbow, dripping in jewels and beautiful patterns. Whilst the genie is seen in the classic blue appearance throughout the film, his ‘human’ outfit is reminiscent of the outfit worn by the genie in the stage musical version. Jasmine’s beautiful blue outfit is given a new twist, with flowing fabric and even more sparkle and there is a carnival of colour and flair in the brilliant ‘Prince Ali’ sequence.
To conclude, the live action remake of Aladdin is a incredible take on a classic, oozing with magic and passion. The genie is back with all of that Fresh Prince of Bel-air flair, Jasmine is a princess for the modern age and the classic songs have received a breath of fresh air with up to date changes and new lyrics from Pasak and Paul. I am sure that this movie will enchant the children of today’s generation just as much as the original did all those years ago, and it’s a treat for that adults who remember that original as well. It is a big, colourful, magical delight!