Some roles exist within the medium of film that are iconic. We exist within a culture where we constantly wish to modernize everything we can. For the last few years, Disney has been doing just that. Taking their animated libraries and bringing them to life through the medium of live action. 2019 is the climax of this trend for the house of mouse. Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King and a Maleficent sequel are all slated for release this year. Sometimes these films can tell new variations on classic characters and bring some much-needed depth to the original story. Disney has already brought classics like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, & The Jungle Book. For the most part, they’ve been well-received. Yet, we are now on the heels of a rapper-turned-actor taking the reigns from an icon. Rub your lamps and read on to see how the Aladdin remake holds up.
The latest film from Guy Ritchie is the reimagining of the Disney classic. In some ways, the film has a lot of the same energy and in others it has a completely different flair. For the majority of the film, the story focuses on building up its’ three main characters in Mena Massoud’s Aladdin, Will Smith’s Genie and Naomi Scott’s Princess Jasmine. Massoud is a relative unknown. Yet, despite the pressures of the spotlight, manages to deliver a fantastic performance. Massoud is charming, confident and awkward – all within the same breathe. While his performance is good, he’s outshined a bit by his co-stars in Smith and Scott.
To say that Will Smith had major expectations for this role would be an understatement. Robin Williams set the bar increasingly high for the character. Williams alone is probably the reason the character is so iconic. Smith as the genie though is a different breed of Genie. Delivering a charismatic performance with high energy – Smith is entertaining in every moment of his screen time. The only complaint of Smith’s Genie is the sometimes-unfinished character design. In the “Friend Like Me” sequence, you can tell what looks finished and what doesn’t.
Though, it’s the film’s version of Princess Jasmine that really steals the show. Naomi Scott turns in a strong performance that not only modernizes the character but also brings depth. Scott is fierce, uncompromising and absolutely delightful. She is utterly electric within the role of Jasmine. An absolute perfect casting for the character.
The same thing can not be said for the villain of the film. Jafar is brought to life by Marwan Kenzari. Kenzari delivers a wooden and unintimidating antagonist. He feels as if only to exist simply because its’ what you do within a story. Compared to the other three characters there is no development here with Jafar. His character feels the need to push for an unnecessary war. This by the way is a completely unneeded subplot – mentioned several times within the course of the film. Yet, never going any where. The subplot feels more like forced motive than anything else. Falling flat in everyway imaginable.
Overall, Aladdin (2019), stands strong with its source material. Strong performances from Will Smith, Naomi Scott and newcomer Mena Massoud make way for deep arcs and terrific performances. Smith’s Genie is electrifying and filled with charm and energy. Making brilliant use of his screen time. Though, it’s Scott’s Princess Jasmine who steals the show with her strong morals and fierce performance. However, the film falls flat for its’ antagonist in a dull, uninspiring performance from Marwan Kenzari. Aladdin is nevertheless entertaining from start to finish.
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Credits: Music by Beggars. Aladdin 2019 is property of Walt Disney Pictures. We do not own nor claim any rights.