Aladdin - This Movie Rocks A Little (Now With Added Corden!)
Dir: Guy Ritchie
Starring Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwen Kenzari, Nasim Petrad, Billy Magnussen
Guy Ritchie’s live action Aladdin is a film that comes with a lot of baggage. And most of that comes in the absent shape of Robin Williams. Williams’ performance in the 1992 animated take on the tale is simply so indelible that it takes a whole lot of movie to get out from under its shadow.
And Ritchie’s Bollywood inspired take on this particular Arabian Night is not a strong enough movie to do it. And Will Smith – who surely knew he was a hiding to nothing taking this role on – is not an animated enough Genie to replace that prior animated Genie.
That said, this Aladdin is not a bad movie. Ritchie brings a strong visual style to it and keeps it moving along at a decent clip, with bags of energy. It especially works in the casting of its two leads, the thoroughly winning Massoud as the street rat made good, and the feisty Scott (so annoying on The Graham Norton Show recently) who makes for an impressive, feisty modern take on the Disney princess, although her new and supposedly empowering song, Speechless, is a stand out moment – for all the wrong reasons. However, together they do have a good degree of chemistry which becomes genuinely charming.
All the moments and songs you love are there – further evidence that Disney do not want to stray too far from their templates in their systematic remaking of all our childhoods. (Unless you count Dumbo, where they added a pointless hour and all but ruined it.) And the new stuff fits well and rarely jars – “Speechless” aside.
And as to Smith – well, he does what he can in a thankless situation. He certainly has charm and is at his best went not echoing the moments that came before.
You could argue there is a certain degree of inappropriate cultural appropriation going on here – this is ancient Arabia Mr Ritchie, not the modern-day Indian film industry. But then again, Bollywood is not a genre known for its verisimilitude.(And Disney and Ritchie clearly have at least one eye on those lucrative foreign revenues.)
As Disney’s modern remakes go, (bearing in mind this is automatically a series of films that will never improve on their own originals) this is a decent enough one.
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