Aladdin Movie Review : Was it a magical carpet ride?

*Spoiler alerts. If you have not watched the movie and intends to do so, back away now!*

I can hardly believe the Live Action Movie of our beloved childhood Disney Princess and Prince is finally out. There had been a lot of buzz surrounding the production and cast but boy did those 2 years fly by quick! Just like any review out there, this piece here will be highly subjective and filled with the author’s personal preference. In no way do I intend to deal damage or hurt to any brands, cooperation or individuals. If you cannot bear the heat, please stay away. 

The prince of the series is played by Canadian actor Mean Massoud. Massoud is of Egyptian descent which made the casting choice very fitting. I especially loved how close his singing voice sounded to the original Aladdin. It also has a distinctive “young, princely” vibe to it which was absolutely vital. 

The first half of the movie was a little difficult to sit through, what with the elaborate cut scenes, cramped alleyway fight scene, and singing that doesn’t seem to gel with the actions. I’m having problem deciding whether was Massoud’s interpretation of Aladdin off or did the director failed to do the story justice.

It feels like there was too much going on without enough effort to ensure everything looks seamless and clear on screen. Despite all the effort put into ensuring the location looks realistic, more often than not, the set ends up a distraction than lending more context to the characters. I cannot decide if it was a problem with the set or with post-production but I especially disliked how they changed the iconic scene of Aladdin alone in his tower home singing “One Jump Ahead”. With everything looking so bright and cheery, I couldn't even pretend to feel sad for Aladdin. That demoralized scene would have benefited so much from a dull twilight sky. 

British actress Naomi Scott who is of English and Indian descent was cast as the newly sculpted Princess Jasmine. Instead of the one-dimensional princess whose only goal was to find true love, the new Jasmine now aspires to bridge the gap between the royal family and their people, break all traditions and become a Sultan(King). I love how the scriptwriter decided to bring a contemporary approach to Jasmine though I found it a tad forced - it’s like they were trying to jump on the feminist train, you get what I mean? I mean being strong-willed and determined is great but there isn’t anything wrong with the original Jasmine either. She was, after all, just a starry-eyed teenager of the right age. And Aladdin was predominantly a love story, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Naomi Scott’s “Speechless”. I’m thrilled to have such a powerful and catchy theme song for Jasmine and dang can Naomi sing! However, I do find Naomi’s vocals a little too mature for Jasmine while the song feels like it is… trying to be the next "Let It Go"?

That hasn't stopped me from playing the song on infinity loop though haha. 

It feels confusingly strange for me, a usually obstinate and strong-minded female to actually not lap up the new Jasmine. Judging by my past cosplay choices, one would figure I’d be a fan! I loved Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, Princess Mera and most of the female heroines that grace the silver screen. But with the failed attempt of Belle in the 2017 "Beauty and the Beast”; this 2019 Jasmine feels like a deja-vu.

The story shows Jasmine trying to break through the cage that years of tradition have placed around her and constantly being put in her place by the men around her (actually just Jafar because they cannot risk too many hate from the fans xD ). Those parts of the story almost made me tear as it felt like I was looking at my own childhood. However, the poor pacing of the movie made it hard for you to care about the characters deeply and before your emotions can climax, the scene trails off to another. 

Will Smith was generally pretty awesome throughout the show. I love how the movie gave him a more humane side with a desire for the opposite gender and to have a family. The songs were catchy and well paced though I found some of the dance number a little underwhelming - I guess my expectations were too high. Like how some other people have commented, Will Smith took Genie with his own twist and it was assuring to see him manufacture such a relaxed yet humorous Genie. 

Now that we’re on the topic of songs, was my theatre the only one to sniggle when Jasmine sang her final “Speechless”?

I can’t decide if it was pure genius or pure bonkers to have everyone fade into dust while she goes around pushing doors, pulling flags and doing a musical tirade. I guess it was a great way to introduce the powerful character song that ties in with the scene - after all, it is really hard to make any Live Action Musical Movie realistic. Hollywood needs to take a leaf from Bollywood’s book, they are masters at mass dance-off parties.  

I like the green ensemble that Jasmine wore in most of the promotion posters but everything else feels a little too westernized. I’d preferred if they went for a more middle-eastern, loose and flowy chiffon kind of design with her. I know they are trying to make her a stronger female now so maybe that’s why her clothes have such a stiffness to them. But you can be strong even while wearing a pink tutu you know? Despite not fitting my idea of Jasmine, the costumes by themselves are all pretty endearing.

But really, this princess needs some bangles on her wrist. No royalty can ever be seen without a copious amount of gold and gems. That's their USP and God-given Royal rights! I'd have to say that the lack of some Over-The-Top jewellery on Jasmine kinda makes her melt in with the side characters.

I also loved what they did to Will Smith, making him look both like an exotic genie and man of middle eastern descent.

I did also liked Aladdin’s clothing - especially the default red vest one. I love how simple yet detailed it was, it definitely paid homage to the original cartoon’s character design while giving it a bit more life and texture. I admit I didn’t like how Massoud looked as Aladdin in the beginning because he looked way too underwhelming for a Disney Prince but things perked up after he became Prince Ali. I’m not sure what happened there, *rubs chin* maybe I just don’t like guys with long hair haha. 

Watching Jasmin and Aladdin fall in love on the magic carpet ride though, was slightly excruciating. I mean, the song is fantastic don’t get me wrong. I still don’t think Naomi’s matured voice fits the song much but she hit every key she was supposed to and it was a great rendition. However, the scene, along with the entire movie felt like it was zooming past my head. You need time to fall in love and it’s hard to imagine that when everything is flying past you so quickly. I also felt that Disney lost a great cinematic chance here with the song - it was a great opportunity for them to create the most innovative, most beautiful and most magical scene in Disney history. I don’t know about you but I don’t watch Disney movies for realism, I watch Disney movies for fantasy and dreams. The entire sequence was dark, dull and dreary - where is the romance?! The scene would have benefitted so much from some artistic liberation and colour amendments. And please, slow down!

The original boring and dull version. 

15 minutes in Photoshop and this is my raw rendition. not too bad eh? Ok fine, it looks like a grainy hot mess but at least you get where I'm going with the colour scheme right?

Speaking of losing a great cinematic chance, I feel really disappointed with Jafar too. I was expecting a mysterious, cunning and scheming sorcerer (hopefully handsome too hehe) yet what I felt I received was a petty and conniving street thief. A show really is only as good as the antagonist. If he fails to antagonize, the viewers will fail to sense the urgency and fear! 

I also felt like Jafar could be a potential "Tom Hiddleston as Loki" if done right. Not enough malice in Marwan Kenzari’s eyes - I was so tempted to reach out and draw some dark nose bridge shading on him in Cosplay style! That’ll make he look evil instantly! Marwan Kenzari, the actor for Jafar is a Dutch actor of Tunisian descent. Since he grew up in the Netherlands, his middle eastern accent in the film must have been all part of the act and I’ll give him credits for that. 

I took the liberty to do some Photoshop magic on the already very hot Marwan Kenzari. Here is what a little bit of brown shading and eyeliner can do - I learned this in Cosplay. Leave me a comment and tell me which version of Jafar you prefer Image result for sunglasses emoji.  With the amount of support on Twitter for #HotJafar, I'm surprised Disney didn't give him more fanservice shirtless moments. Oh right, this is supposed to be family friendly hehe *embarrassed grin*.

So to conclude, would I consider the 2019 Aladdin Movie a magical ride? 

No, unfortunately not. I admit, my blatant insistent that it mimics the original 1992 work closely might have snuffed out some of the fun of the new movie for me and I'm keen to give the movie another chance. Maybe two's the lucky number this time?

I think Disney missed something here but it was still a relatively good attempt and well worth a watch just for a whiff of Childhood nostalgia. Just don’t go to the theatre with too many expectations, like me. 


Popular Posts