Movie Review: Live action Aladdin does right by it’s animated original

Growing up at home in the 90s with two younger siblings, Disney had it’s spot on the top of the mountain as far as animated features went. And it’s ambassador at the top of that mountain. “Aladdin”.

Needless to say our whole family wanted it done well. We wanted a strong cast, loyalty to the material and music, as well a performance that did justice to one of Robin Williams’ most iconic performances.

I can tell you that I was satisfied.

The live action remake of Aladdin is strong. Not perfect, but it’s worthy of it’s animated counterpart that was a part of so many families that are looking to past the story on to the next generation.

The story stars Mena Massoud as the title character, and Naomi Scott as Jasmine. The casting of Disney princesses will always come under scrutiny (see Emma Watson in the Beauty and the Beast remake) but Scott takes charge of the role with a powerful voice that really shines during the musical numbers. It’s not a stretch to say it’s her film.

Now we have to talk about the Genie.

Will Smith had the impossible task of following the late, great, Robin Williams’ animated genie that remains to this day, one of the finest voice performances in history.

Director Guy Ritchie was right to let Smith make the role his own, while staying loyal to the original. His vocal aren’t quite the same on songs like “Friend like me” and “Prince Ali” but they “get over the net”

The special effects are first class Disney. Characters like Abu the monkey, Iago the parrot, and the Magic Carpet are wonderful and while the appearance of the Genie itself hasn’t flown well with everyone, it’s hard to imagine how they could have done it differently in a fashion that would have remained original.

All in all, Ritchie’s “Aladdin” is fine. Capturing the magic of Disney animated classics is not an easy filmmaking feat but this is a carpet ride worth taking.

GRADE: B

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