The Aladdin we all know and love, first released in 1992, has been a classic for all ages for the last 27 years. It’s safe to say that because of these cartoon versions being the beloved classics that they are, we tend to see them through rose-colored glasses as masterpieces that can’t be redone. As we found with Beauty And The Beast,which Sara and I roasted on Youtube, it’s hard to keep up with what was done back then. But unlike Beauty And The Beast, Aladdin takes the already established masterpiece of a film and makes the whole thing new while keeping the spirit of the classic movie alive… So all you Robin Williams fans who have been dissing Will Smith’s Genie need to relax and just judge the film on it’s own terms.
Title: Disney’s Aladdin Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures, Rideback & Marc Platt Productions Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Directed by: Guy Ritchie Produced by: Dan Lin & Jonathan Eirich Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad & Billy Magnussen Based on: Disney’s Aladdin by Ron Clements, John Musker, Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio / Aladdin and the Magic Lamp from One Thousand and One Nights Release dates: May 24, 2019 (Worldwide) Running time: 128 minutes Rating: PG (United States) / PG (Australia)
Aladdin, a street urchin living in the fictional desert kingdom of Agrabah along with his pet monkey, Abu, rescues and befriends Princess Jasmine of Agrabah, who is upset that the law requires her to marry a prince instead of one she loves.
Meanwhile, Jafar, the Royal Vizier, and his parrot Iago seek a lamp hidden within the Cave of Wonders to become Sultan. They are told that only one person is worthy to enter: “the diamond in the rough,” whom Jafar later identifies as Aladdin. Later, Aladdin returns a bracelet belonging to Jasmine’s mother and the palace guards capture Aladdin on Jafar’s orders.
Jafar frees Aladdin and Abu and, after telling Aladdin that he can make him rich enough to impress Jasmine, has him retrieve the lamp. Inside, Aladdin finds a magic carpet and obtains the lamp. Defying Aladdin’s instruction to touch nothing but the lamp, Abu grabs a ruby. Aladdin, Abu, and the carpet rush to escape the cave as it collapses. Aladdin gives the lamp to Jafar, who throws both Aladdin and Abu back into the cave, though not before Abu steals the lamp back. Trapped, Aladdin rubs the lamp and meets the Genie who lives inside it. The Genie grants Aladdin three wishes. Aladdin tricks the Genie into freeing them all from the cave without using a wish. He uses his first wish to assume the identity of a prince to woo Jasmine, and promises to use his third wish to free the Genie from servitude.
Aladdin, as “Prince Ali Ababwa”, arrives in Agrabah with a large entourage, but Jasmine is unimpressed. Later, Aladdin takes Jasmine on a ride on the magic carpet while the Genie goes out with her handmaiden, Dalia. When she deduces his true identity, he convinces her that he only dresses as a peasant to escape the stresses of royal life. However, Jafar discovers Aladdin’s true identity and threatens him to tell him where the lamp is. Aladdin refuses and Jafar throws him out of the tower into the sea. Abu and the carpet arrive with the lamp, and Aladdin rubs it before drowning.
Genie rescues Aladdin and, after speaking with Jasmine, they help expose Jafar’s evil plot, and the Sultan has Jafar arrested. After being offered the position as heir to the Sultan, Aladdin, fearing that he will lose Jasmine if the truth is revealed, reluctantly breaks his promise and refuses to free the Genie, upsetting him. Meanwhile, Iago steals the dungeon keys and frees Jafar, who secretly steals the lamp from Aladdin and becomes the Genie’s new master. He uses his first two wishes to become Sultan and the world’s most powerful sorcerer. He then exiles Aladdin to a frozen wasteland and threatens to kill Dalia and the Sultan unless Jasmine agrees to marry him. However, the Genie has the carpet and Abu retrieve Aladdin.
As they proceed with the wedding ceremony, Aladdin returns to the palace and Jasmine tries to help Aladdin steal the lamp back, but Jafar notices it. After a brief chase, Iago, becoming a large bird from Jafar’s sorcery, steals the lamp once more, but then loses it when the Sultan interrupts Jafar’s sorcery on him. Using his magic, Jafar overpowers the heroes. However, Aladdin taunts Jafar for being less powerful than the Genie, tricking Jafar into using his last wish to become an all-powerful genie himself. Now bound to his new lamp, Jafar ends up trapped inside it, taking Iago with him.
With Agrabah returned to normal, the Genie banishes Jafar’s lamp to the desert and advises Aladdin to use his third wish to regain his royal title so the law will allow him to stay with Jasmine. Aladdin decides instead to keep his promise and free the Genie. Realizing Aladdin and Jasmine’s love, the Sultan changes the law to allow Jasmine to marry whom she chooses. The Genie and Dalia leave to explore the world while Aladdin and Jasmine start their new life together.
Mena Massoud as Aladdin:
An impoverished Agrabah thief and “street rat” who is smitten with the Sultan’s daughter. Talk about a perfect casting. One of the many good choices made by the production team (and you should hear the story about the 4 month casting process that led to Massoud getting cast) here with keeping the characters looking somewhat like their cartoon counterparts while giving proper humanity to the whole movie. Massoud as Aladdin is sweet, kind, impish, and is more than willing to allow his confidence to shine in moments where he needs to con someone. During later parts as Prince Ali, you can really see that he gets lost in the illusion instead of listening to the “be yourself” message. However it’s the chemistry that Massoud has with Naomi Scott’s Jasmine that steals the show here, especially with the classic hit song “A Whole New World,” where the two really give the vibe of two lovers who have found each other through observed circumstances.
Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine:
The Sultan’s daughter and the feisty princess of Agrabah who wants to have a say in how she lives her life. There have been a couple of changes made to the Jasmine character from the one we knew in the cartoon. While Jasmine is seen as headstrong and outspoken, her motivation has changed from trapped princess to a princess who’s ambition is to become Sultan and thus a great leader like her (now dead) mother was. Jasmine’s focus is more on the people of Agrabah and their plight than just wanting to be free to do what she wants. This makes her more focused then the other version, which plays really well with Scott’s portrayal of the character. Scott brings this sensitive yet driven woman onto the screen and makes use of every bit of screen time she is in… even if her solo song “Speechless”, which was made just for this version of the film, grinds the whole movie to an unneeded halt.
Will Smith as Genie:
A comedically eccentric and kindly genie who has the nigh omnipotent power to grant three wishes to whoever possesses his magic lamp. *Sigh* Alright, let’s get this one over and done with. Yes Will Smith isn’t as good as Robin Williams. To be honest, how can one man do something against the tag team of unlimited imagination of animation and one of the best comedy and impression voices in generations? Of course Smith can’t keep up with that, no matter how far CGI animation has come in the last couple of decades. So instead of trying to be Williams, Smith just went out and was Will Smith; and I’m not just talking modern acting Will Smith, this is 90s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air comedy movie Will Smith. Where William’s strength was in his voice and his impression, Smith’s strength is his charm and hip-hop singing, and both are on display here. Smith’s revisions of “Arabian Nights”, “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali” are actually really good as Smith gets a chance to inject some of his own personal hip-hop style into the songs and it just makes them more personal and interesting. With “Friend Like Me” Smith’s Genie doesn’t actually mention Aladdin’s name till late in the song as the two don’t do the whole introduction thing till mid-point in the song itself and it’s actually amusing. With “Prince Ali”, you can tell that Smith goes out of his way to play up to the crowd and the Sultan in particular, hanging the song at the final high point while he wait for the Sultan to start dancing along before delivering the big finish. It’s little touches like this which make Smith’s Genie different enough to be original and a homage to the work Williams did decades earlier.
Marwan Kenzari as Jafar:
A nefarious and deceptive sorcerer, the Grand Vizier of Agrabah and the Sultan’s chief advisor who, frustrated with the Sultan’s ways of ruling, devises a plot to overthrow the Sultan as the ruler of Agrabah by acquiring the Genie’s lamp. Out of all the characters, settings and story points that got changed and added to in this version of Aladdin, it was Jafar who got the most work. While he doesn’t have the outright sinister bad guy look that the animated version did, it’s more about the character than the look. In this version we learn that Jafar was a street thief like Aladdin, but instead of just stealing enough to survive he took all that he wanted in order to change his station in life from thief to Vizier, using his own personal mottos of “If you steal an apple, you’re a thief. If you steal a country, then you’re a Statesman” and “If you’re not the most powerful man in the room, then you’re nothing.” It’s these mottos that drive Jafar as a villain and gives him more motivation and purpose than just “evil for evil’s sake.” Kenzari’s more sly and controlled (with the occasional outburst when someone calls him “second place”) demeanor of Jafar makes him much more of a threat than the cartoon and also a counter point to Aladdin’s more down to Earth ideals.
Navid Negahban as The Sultan:
The wise and noble ruler of Agrabah who is eager to find a capable husband for his daughter Jasmine. I loved the change in character here. Instead of the childish bumbling fool we got in the cartoon version, we got a much wiser sounding and traditional style ruler of a kingdom and it’s traditions. Negahban brings this whole thing together with the way he moves and uses his facial expressions to convey a more serious and stout Sultan. Plus his time with Scott as Jasmine really shows a true fatherly side to the character that this movie needed. Thank god we didn’t get a repeat of the Sultan meets Carpet scene.
Nasim Pedrad as Dalia:
Jasmine’s loyal handmaiden and confidante. A new character that did not appear in the original film. One of two brand new characters for this film. Pedrad as Dalia is a weird one to watch. For one she is the comic foil for Jasmine through most of the film, as the more traditional style of woman at the time: only wanting a handsome husband who has a lot of money (aka a prince), and Pedrad pulls some great moments from a very one note character. However she becomes more serious yet silly at the same time later in the film when she meets Genie in human form.
Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders:
A suitor and potential husband for Jasmine from the kingdom of Skånland who is a new character that did not appear in the original film. One of the unneeded characters in the film. He shows up in the “prince from another land” role that was a way to show how much Aladdin cares about the other poor people around him, especially the children, saving one from being crushed by a horse. However after that everything is just awkward for this character and Magnussen doesn’t really do anything to change that opinion when he reappears later in the movie for no reason other than to delay Aladdin as Prince Ali speaking with Jasmine one on one.
Numan Acar as Hakim:
Jafar’s right-hand man and head of the palace guards. Sometimes it is good to see background characters get a bit more attention, and Acar’s Hakim get’s just that. We get to see Hakim as the head of the guards, a man of loyalty and honor; and as the guy who traps Aladdin from time to time only to see Aladdin get away somehow. The character gets his moment to choose between what he is bound to do by duty and what is right for all of Agrabah, a nice touch for a background character.
Robby Haynes as Razoul:
The royal captain of the Guard of Agrabah. Yep, character in name only. The role of Razoul was replaced with the Hakim character in this film.
Alan Tudyk as Iago:
Jafar’s sardonic scarlet macaw companion. I’m not too sure why they decided to go with an actual name with this version of Iago. With the cartoon version it made sense to have someone with a voice do the role, but since in this version Iago is more of a standard parrot, repeating lines he hears and some he has been taught, it’s so limited that giving someone like Tudyk this role just feels like a waste of talent.
Frank Welker reprises his voice roles from the original film as:
Abu: Aladdin’s kleptomaniac but loyal pet monkey with a falsetto voice.
Cave of Wonders: A sand guardian that resembles a form of a giant head of a tiger who has been tasked to protect the magic lamp from intruders and give it to those who are worthy like a “diamond in the rough.”
Rajah: Jasmine’s protective pet Bengal tiger and best friend, who communicates through growling, roaring and grunting.
I love me some Frank Welker, the dude is the voice of my childhood. Having him come back as the two animals he voiced in the cartoon movie and TV series, and also as the iconic Cave of Wonders. I was smiling the whole time hearing those voice again on the big screen.
What worked in Aladdin was the changes that needed to happen. As I mentioned above, the additions to the Jafar character’s background bring in his motivation and makes his plans actually mean something more than the usual “Guy who wants to take over the city/world” (OF COURSE!). Jasmine gets more of her own background too wanting to follow in her mother’s footprints and become a ruler to help her people rather than just the girl who wants to be free to make her own choices. The Sultan has gone from bumbling child-like fool to competent ruler. It’s a lot of small things that have been added and changed to the movie that expands the movie in ways the animation couldn’t. It sorta updates the whole story for a new generation while keeping the tradition of the story alive. The songs in Aladdin are just as good and you can sing along to most of them. The emotion is there too, especially with Aladdin and Jasmine, thanks to Massoud and Scott having some realistic looking chemistry on set. And yes, Will Smith is enjoyable as The Genie, thanks not only to Smith bringing his own style to the character but also a sub plot with Jasmine’s handmaiden that gives them both not only something to do, but some great human moments as well.
Another thing that really makes Aladdin stand out is the setting and the way they have used things. Because this is a Middle Eastern style setting, you do get a little bit of the Bollywood style that I was hoping would be injected into the movie. The dances have that feel in 99% of the songs, including a party dance sequence that looks like it was pulled out of any great Bollywood film. The only one that doesn’t get that Bollywood style is “Friend Like Me” which is more Will Smith music video and homage to the original at the same time. But the clothing is bright and fluffy, the music is great and the characters are just so alive with energy that I can’t see this any other way than just a good time.
What didn’t work are some of the changes that were made but not needed. Small things like the removal of phrases like “By Allah” and a 75% rewrite of “Arabian Nights” to focus on diversity and inclusion rather than the “barbaric” and harsh nature of the environment. There’s also the two-part song “Speechless” sung by Jasmine that really just didn’t need to be at all, especially the second part (which was a full blown song) which happens in the middle of Jafar’s big evil villain speech, grinding the whole film to a stand still because we “need” a song about how strong and defiant of a women Jasmine has become…except that she established that from the get-go in the movie and against Jafar directly already, then follow up with a great speech about how duty, honor and tradition don’t always go hand in hand which does a better job showing her defiance than the song did!
You can tell modern ideology of the third wave kind has made its way into the film in a good character building way only to be shoved in your face and down your throat to score points with the Hollywood left-leaning crowd. This also hurts the movie because of the removal of anything remotely Muslim-sounding from the look, actions and vocabulary of the character to make sure they play it safe and don’t upset that crowd, and it comes off more insulting since the area where these tales take place in is in the middle of Muslim religious territory.
At the end of the day, Aladdin is a safe film full of likeable and amusing moments while retelling a very old story. While it doesn’t stick to the cartoon version 100% like previous live-action adaptations have, it’s a welcome sight to see things in a different light and expanded to fix the problems that the cartoon suffered from. The changes, both good and bad, have created a new modern classic that gives everyone their moment to shine and do their own thing while paying homage to the 1992 version that has been popular all this time. A must see movie while we’re all in the afterglow of the ending of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Disclosure: Tickets for Aladdin were bought personally by Karl Smart for personal purposes. If you believe that anything you read on The Outerhaven in regards to our reviews or items sent to us from companies, please take a look at our ETHICS STATEMENT AND REVIEW POLICY and contact management through the form and we shall look into the matter.
A Refreshing Classic
A Refreshing Classic
Aladdin is a mixture of good and bad when it comes to it’s changes. The removal of Muslim phrases is just a shame, the addition of “Speechless” for the sake of third wave Hollywood leftist is just sad to see; but there are a lot of good changes to Aladdin from a character stand point that makes this film stand on it’s own as the best of the live-action remakes of the Disney classics. A must see film while you have a chance.
Will Smith playing to his strengths as The Genie
Jafar getting much needed background and motivation
Injection of Bollywood dance scenes and influences