I know, I know. I keep saying I don’t like Disney remakes (I think the actual phrase I used was “lazy cash grab”) but then I rave about the movies.
Aladdin is no exception.
I was not excited about this movie, and then the blue Will Smith genie thing broke the internet and that just made me especially nonchalant.
But then I started seeing clips of the musical numbers and by the time I got in the theater I was downright excited.
This will not be a popular thing to say, but dang it, I loved it! I loved every cast member. I loved the art direction, especially the golden, swirling sand font. I loved every costume. I loved every musical number (although there was one confusing song that was added, that while beautifully done, left me thinking Jasmine had Thanos-snapped all her enemies out of existence, but it wouldn’t be a Guy Ritchie movie without a little slick surrealism). I loved every CGI animal (and there were a lot). And for the record, if I didn’t already think Aladdin was hot, I do now. Regrettably the one thing that didn’t make it into this adaptation was his shirtless vest look.
I know Will Smith was getting a lot of flack for his Genie, but after seeing this I’m not sure there are very many people who could have pulled the character off. There’s something about him that’s just inherently likable, even when he’s being a bit of a d-bag. He just seems like a fun, laid back guy and where Robin Williams went manic, Smith played it cool and for whatever reason it worked. His performance was a perfect homage without being an imitation.
I was also hearing some grumbling about this live-action movie playing it too close to the original. On that note, I totally disagree. This movie was at its best when it was faithful to the original. The minor plot changes that were added seemed out of place and forced. But when it stayed true to the source, it soared! Whether that was during Prince Ali’s introduction or Aladdin and Jasmine’s magic carpet ride, there were parts of this movie that were fun and plain, outright beautiful.
And Jasmine! The scene in the trailer with her walking down the staircase with Rajah! Enough said.
So even though I was blasé about seeing it (I’ll reiterate: lazy cash grab), sometime about 15 minutes in I realized I was smiling and that smile lasted throughout the entire movie, except for a few nostalgic parts when I must admit I got a little teary.
It may not have been a whole new world, but it absolutely was shining, shimmering and splendid!
P.S. As the credits were playing I had a thought. If I had a magic lamp I would have wished Disney had the same foresight as Marvel with these live-action movies. How cool would it have been as a post credit scene in each of these remakes if the main character was visited by somebody like the Genie or the Blue Fairy a la Nick Fury style and recruited for a Kingdom Hearts movie??? C’est la vie.