Aladdin is playing in cinemas now.
In 1992, Disney brought us the animated musical film Aladdin, the middle of a trilogy of highly successful films that became instant Disney classics. While never as strong as the two giants sitting on either side of it, Beauty and Beast 1991 and, The Lion King 1994, Aladdin thrived on the raucous energy and ad-lib comedy of the late Robin Williams as the Genie. Now continuing the Disney obsession with live action remakes, Guy Richie brings us a colourful remake of the original animated film, and despite being a strange choice as Director, Richie largely pulls off an enjoyable, musical romp.
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Aladdin excels in its ability to bring the city of Agrabah to life through gloriously rich sets full of vibrant energy and charm. But it’s the lead performances of Mena Massoud (Aladdin) and Naomi Scott (Princess Jasmine) that shine. However, despite these strengths, there is one weakness, the Genie.
On paper, Will Smith may have seemed perfect for the role, given his comedic ability and wit. However, his portrayal feels uncomfortable, uninspiring and essentially flat. Even the Genie’s musical numbers somehow feel strained, offering nothing new to the character, while providing us with a pale imitation of Robin Williams’ lively and chaotic creation. Equally problematic is the live-action Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) who feels under-developed and lost in the overarching narrative of the film. But despite its problems, Massoud and Scott keep Aladdin upbeat and on track with sizzling on-screen chemistry, it’s just a shame there wasn’t a dash more magic Genie dust.