Aladdin, rated PG
Aladdin is an enjoyable live action remake of the 1992 animated Disney film that starred Robin Williams as the Genie. The new film is directed by Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes), and the screenplay is written by Ritchie and John August (Big Fish). The film includes songs from the original version written by eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), and two-time Oscar winner Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid). The film had a budget of approximately $183 million, and runs two hours and eight minutes, or thirty-eight minutes longer than the original.
The film opens with Will Smith as a mariner on a boat in the ocean telling his two young children the story of Aladdin and the Genie. It then takes us to the city of Agrabah, where Aladdin, a poor “street rat” thief, played by Mena Massoud and his small monkey Abu, are walking through the marketplace looking for items to steal.
Aladdin meets a beautiful girl, who tells him that she is the princess’s handmaid Dalia, who is disguised as a peasant. The two seem to have an attraction as they escape through the city from someone Aladdin has stolen from. When Abu steals and hides Jasmine’s bracelet however, Aladdin takes it to the palace to return it to her. It is there that he finally realizes that she is not Dalia (who is played by Nasmin Pedrad (Saturday Night Live), but the Sultan’s daughter, princess Jasmine (played by Naomi Scott), who he had met in the marketplace.
According to Agrabah law, Jasmine must marry a prince, but she feels that she should be able to rule as a woman. Jasmine’s father, the Sultan, is played by Navid Negahban. His seemingly loyal, but actually power-hungry vizier/advisor Jafar wants to replace the Sultan and is played by Marwan Kenzari. Jafar sends Aladdin to the Cave of Wonders in the desert to get a magic lamp and bring it to him. Aladdin does get the lamp, but then the entrance to the cave closes, leaving him and Abu trapped inside. Aladdin discovers that inside the lamp is a massive blue Genie, played by two-time Oscar nominee Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness, Ali). The Genie can grant Aladdin three wishes. Aladdin’s first wish is to get them out of the cave. The second is to make him a prince so that he can marry Princess Jasmine and the Genie hopes that the third wish will be used to grant Genie his freedom from the lamp. Will Aladdin be able to convince Jasmine that he is Prince Ali so that he can win her heart? What about the evil Jafar?
I enjoyed this film. The songs – “Arabian Nights”, “Friend Like Me”, “A Whole New World”, etc. were done well. A new song, “Speechless”, written by Menken with Ben Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land, The Greatest Showman) is powerfully sung by Jasmine as she determines not to stay silent any longer. The depiction of the fictional Agrabah, the colorful costumes, and the use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) for the magic carpet, Jasmine’s tiger Rajah, Abu, etc., were all effective. Will Smith was excellent in the role of Genie.
Themes include courage, sacrifice, love, deception, female empowerment, sorcery, family and freedom. Content concerns are limited to a few scenes involving Jafar that may be too scary for very young children.
Aladdin is an enjoyable live-action remake of the 1992 Disney animated film that the entire family (with the exception of very young children) can enjoy.