Friday, 31 May 2019

Review: Aladdin (2019)

Aladdin (2019) (3D)
Cert: PG / 128 mins / Dir. Guy Ritchie / Trailer

Well, it’s the retooling that nobody clamoured for, but as part of Disney’s programme of self-exploitation we got it anyway. Aladdin is in live-action. Or as close to live-action as any adventure movie gets these days. To add an extra note of caution, this particular iteration is helmed by Guy Ritchie – a dynamic and talented film-maker who is also responsible for the atrocious King Arthur.

Yet somehow, Aladdin's okay. Very good in places, very ordinary in others. Distracting enough fun for a first-time audience, but the Disney magic just isn’t consistent enough.


Naturally, there was some consternation when Will Smith was announced as the Genie previously played by Robin Williams. While some of the manic delivery still lingers in the writing of the part, the CGI animation now employed means that he actually channels Jim Carrey in The Mask more than he does Williams. That said, there appears to have been some sloppiness between filming the Genie’s scene-surrounds and interactions, and actually recording Smith’s head against a greenscreen to drop in afterwards. The problem being that the eyeline between Aladdin and the Genie doesn’t quite match up whenever Smith wears the blue makeup, so it really feels like he was in another room. The sections of the movie where Smith has his own skin-tone don’t suffer from this at all, so make of that what you will.

But the extra half hour of run-time when compared to the 1992 animation certainly allows the story to breathe more freely, slowing down the often irritating pacing of that beloved original*1. And it’s worth noting that while the live-action version also opens with a framing device as a nod to its forebear, it also remembers to return to this at the close of the film.


Mena Massoud is a solid lead in the title role, although there’s the feeling that he’s somehow constrained by the part. The real breakout from all of this though is Naomi Scott as Jasmine. I’m not usually one for bigging up musical numbers, but Scott’s vocals here are absolutely outstanding. She’s got a classical stage-voice which is bigger than the rest of the film. She's going to be huge and this is a great calling-card.

Ultimately, Aladdin is a very pretty and thoroughly unnecessary way to spend two hours (if you’re a punter) or $183m (if you’re Ian Disney).

It should be awful and it isn’t. I’m absolutely fine with that.

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
In terms of what Disney took and what they ended up giving, The Jungle Book.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
For the spectacle, sure
For the feeling, not so much

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
If you've got padawans who are interested, sure.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Let's not get carried away.

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
Entirely possible, yes.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't. I mean, would it have been too much trouble to drop the Jedha Kyber Crystal Temple into one of the wide-shots? Really? How about a couple of Dewbacks, then?

Still, that poster's a complete 'homage' to The Force Awakens so that's something I guess

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: The voice of K2-SO is in this.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Full disclosure: I only watched the 1992 version for the first time a couple of nights before seeing this. No previous agenda behind that, it's just the way things worked out over the years. Anyway, the animated film feels rushed in its execution and performances, and frankly not all that. Do not 'at' me. [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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