REVIEW: Aladdin (2019) – A whole new film

A Whole New Film

Don’t you dare close your eyes on this bumpy but magical carpet ride.

For the most part this Aladdin remake stays true to the original Disney animated version from 1992. However, they are some key changes, some good additions, others questionable, which makes this a whole new film.

Right from the start of the film, a distinct middle eastern flavour is evident through the musical and visual feast we are treated with.

The original soundtrack set the bar high and this version reaches it… eventually. The opening number is awesome and sets the film up perfectly. It’s confusing that Will Smith sings this song since he also plays the Genie.

Still, the musical numbers will make you feel like joining in just as they did 20 years ago. There are a few new songs which are subordinate and not memorable.

As you may remember the original was sung by a third-party narrator who was technically not a character in the story. They could have made a better choice of singer for this important opening number.

Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) are amazing on screen together and really bring the animated version to life. Navid Negahban’s performance as the Sultan is an authentic portrayal of the royal father.

The Genie is a problematic character throughout the film but to be fair, Robin William’s performance is inimitable, so it had to be different. I think the portrayal departs a bit too much from the comical genie.

Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) doesn’t seem scary enough as the nefarious Grand Vizier of Agrabah. His image is softened in this version of the story but by the end, he is still the same power-hungry Jafar.

Newcomers; Dalia, Prince Anders and Hakim are questionable additions. Their inclusion seems pointless and their presence feels forced.

Animal sidekicks, Abu the monkey and Rajah the tiger, make a welcome return but Jafar’s sardonic and talkative companion Iago the bird, is not in full voice. A good opportunity to inject humour into the story is missed with this character.

This live-action remake truly brings the Disney animated classic to life through the magic of CGI, a visual feast of scenic cinematography and sounds of the middle east but its departure from the original story raises many questions.