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Will Smith is the only good thing about 'Aladdin'

Mena Massoud as the street rat with a heart of gold, Aladdin, and Will Smith as the larger-than-life Genie in Disney’s "Aladdin". Picture: Disney

Mena Massoud as the street rat with a heart of gold, Aladdin, and Will Smith as the larger-than-life Genie in Disney’s "Aladdin". Picture: Disney

Published May 24, 2019


The best way to describe the live-action adaptation of "Aladdin" is that it’s a pantomime with wooden lead actors. 

Rating: 3/5

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"Aladdin" tells the story of a thief with a heart of gold in the fictional land of Agrabah who falls in love with Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). 

After being forced in the Cave of Wonders by Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) to find the lamp of the magical Genie. 

Aladdin (Mena Massoud) then uses his wishes from the Genie (Will Smith) to become a prince and be able to wed the princess. When Disney announced Guy Ritchie as the director for the live-action adaptation of the Disney classic, I was a little bit weary as he’s mostly known for high octane action films. 

Ritchie does an OK job, and while the action sequences are well directed, the musical sequences are a bit iffier. The musical moments are grandiose, but Ritchie chooses to only follow one character in those scenes and keeps the camera at one angle. 

This keeps the scenes very restrained and they don’t feel as expansive as they should be. The dialogue at times is also very cheesy, and Ritchie’s decision to have Aladdin and Jasmine speak with American accents seems strange since all the other Middle Eastern/ Southeast Asian characters have native accents. 

Smith, as the Genie, is really the best thing about the film. Smith shines throughout the film, and his charisma and innate comedic sensibility have been missed on our screens. He lifts every scene he’s in, and it’s only when he enters the movie that it starts becoming enjoyable. 

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Aladdin and Jasmine, on the other hand, are very wooden. They have little to no chemistry, and the only scene with only them that evokes emotion is the "A Whole New World"sequence that does give the Disney feel. In all honesty, most of the supporting cast is way more enjoyable to watch, including Abu and the Magic Carpet. 

However, Jafar is in a weird middle ground where it seems that the actor didn’t know if he should be over-the-top or play it realistically. 

Therefore, we end up in this weird space where it falls in no man’s land. For the most part, the music in the film is still magical, especially the ones with the Genie, and Smith really leans into the campy nature of the film. 

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However, there was one of the new songs sung by Scott that seemed out of place since it sounds like a Demi Lovato pop ballad. It really felt like an American Idols performance had jumped into the film. 

The costume design is good, but the clothes don’t feel as if they’re lived in. Agrabah is a city built on the desert sand, and somehow everyone’s clothes are always in pristine condition. Their world has a fake feel and one can see that most of it was filmed on a soundstage. 

"Aladdin" is still an enjoyable film with vibrant colours, a lovable Genie and you will still get the Disney feel. It falls short due to Ritchie’s indecisive direction and wooden acting from Scott and Massoud.

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