As the live-action remake of the Disney classic Aladdin conjures its way into theatres this summer laden with more humor, kinda obvious CGI, it’s the charming flair of the leads that actually manage to save the flick. Thanks to a superb soundtrack that hits all the right notes, especially inside an Atmos theatre, the film is better than expected.
The journey follows Mena Massoud as Aladdin, a kind-hearted street-rat who resorts to stealing in the city of Agrabah with pet monkey Abu. He befriends Princess Jasmine played by Naomi Scott who sneaks out of the palace under the guise of the Princess’s handmaiden in order to explore the city. The two instantly form a connection but with the royal law that a Princess must marry another Prince, Jasmine is forced to meet the royal suitors who arrive to claim her hand in marriage. Her aging father, the Sultan has forbidden her from going out in the city ever since his wife, the Queen died. The Sultan’s advisor, Jafar, seeks to overthrow him and claim the throne for himself. But in order to do that, he seeks the magic lamp hidden in the cave of wonders. While sneaking into the palace one night, Aladdin is captured by Jafar who he deems is worthy to steal the lamp. In exchange, Jafar promises to make Aladdin rich enough to take the Princess’s hand in marriage.
Once inside, Aladdin finds a magic carpet and retrieves the lamp but Abu wrecks the entire mission by touching forbidden treasure and the cave around them crumbles. Seeking a means of escape, Aladdin is betrayed by Jafar who leaves him to die but Abu manages to steal the lamp before falling back into the cave. Trapped in the lair, Aladdin rubs the lamp.
Entire Will Smith as the genie, an omnipotent supernatural being who has been trapped inside the lamp for a thousand years. With the ability to grant the master of the lamp three wishes, the genie takes Aladdin on a wild ride that changes his life forever.
While Will Smith’s genie might not be as memorable as Robin Williams’ animated version, Smith brings his humor to the role and makes you forget the criticism his casting faced on social media. His disguise as Aladdin’s human adviser is easier to handle though than the blue CGI version but then the “genie” moments in the film are quite well done I must say. The two leads have great chemistry. Mena Massoud is charming as the hat-wearing thief but Naomi Scott steals the show. While the musical elements did feel a bit too much, Scott delivers a breathtaking performance during the song Speechless. She is definitely one to keep an eye out for. The villain’s casting is not something I was terribly impressed with – his animated counterpart was far more intimidating but the character was written quite well.
Given that the story is one that all audiences are familiar with due to the numerous retellings and remakes upon remakes, there is nothing that would really count as “fresh” in a film like this apart from a director trademark. Sadly, there is none. Going into a Guy Ritchie film, I was expecting some exposition slapped over crazy slo-mo sequences or the back-and-forth exposition of characters talking about a heist/robbery which would have actually worked in this setting. Unfortunately, it does not feel like a Guy Ritchie film at all.
Bottom line is that the film actually exceeded expectations for me and the musical element, although not my thing, worked here. The live-action Disney remakes aren’t that great but this is the best of the lot. Fingers crossed hoping that Mulan will top this but till then – Aladdin is definitely a solid 2 hours that youngsters could enjoy.
All in all, if you are a monster movie fan, this movie will leave you delighted and be sure to experience the Kaiju in all their behemoth glory at cinemas.
Courtesy of Akash SK