Movie: Alladin (2019)
Cast: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen
Director: Guy Ritchie
Rating: 3 stars
Disney over the years has given us many beloved stories with their different versions getting better with time. The live action that was the need of the hour was present in the Will Smith starrer musical rendition of Alladin. With available technology it is a piece of cake to turn a beloved animated story into a live action film, and with much dedication Guy Ritchie has managed to do the most of what one would expect the larger than life film to look on screen. How it is heard is a different story!
Let me remind you, Guy Ritchie is the same guy who directed the Robert Downey Jr. starrer ‘Sherlock Holmes’ series, (Still waiting for more of that) his last release was ‘King Arthur’ which didn’t create as much of a buzz as you would want it to.
Alladin starts with the Mightiest being on earth as a human singing the tale of ‘The Arabian Nights’ to his kids on a small but sturdy boat, filled with rotten wood and rats. The film is filled with all the songs that we know the words to, and some that we didn’t care to remember. We are taken from the streets of ‘Agrabah’ to the magnificent palace with Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud. However the larger than life atmosphere we experienced in the original is amiss in this one.
Mena as Alladin plays the role as good as a cosplay artist doing his best to keep fitting in the street rat and fake prince avatar, but the songs don’t come off as a teenage singing in hope and in pain, more like just singing. Naomi brings something new as Jasmine but not enough to bring her to life. Her performance in ‘A Whole New World’ and ‘Speechless’ is praise worthy. Aladdin is the big notion of emotions thanks to other characters like the Genie, Zafar, Abu and the charm of ‘Agrabah’, which is not the same here due to poor casting choices for the remaining cast. Will Smith as the big blue Genie had made headlines right after the release of his look, and things don’t change much through the film. Even his singing reminds you of the ‘Prince of BelAir’ instead of the most powerful being on earth. It is a understatement to call the film a musical as it mostly comes off as a Bollywood film with inclusion of songs and dance numbers.
We get a more realistic take on the film’s climax and Marwan Kenzari as Zafar is just not scary or even impactful, he just is someone who has lost touch with reality and wants to be powerful. Even during the climax of the film, instead of being this big villain who could possibly take over the world within seconds, just manages to squint his eyes and yell a few lines.
The best part of the film however is, the two animated pets Abu (monkey) and Lago (Parrot) and Rajah, they bring life, color and sarcasm is the film which was the Genie’s job. The animators who have reacted these beings for the film are the true hero and it seems like the makers used all their budget just there, which is a good choice in this case. Another surprise in the film is Dalia, played by Nasim Pedrad, who is Jasmine’s handmaiden and one character we didn’t know we needed. If you want to re-watch the film these are the characters you would do it for.
Overall, as Disney feeds of nostalgia, this is a good watch but definitely not good enough to replace the original.