The fact is, the 1992 version was the first current movie that my brother and I became fans of while it was still popular. We didn't see it until it came to VHS, but man, we loved it once we saw it. I mean, my brother had Aladdin pajamas, and we had this great little hand-held video game where you threw swords at Jafar over and over. (SHH! It was the early '90s! That was actually cool, progressive technology!) I still have my little plastic action figures of Aladdin, Jasmine, Rajah, the Genie, and the Carpet. Probably Abu somewhere too -- my kids play with them now, so they're just mixed in with all the Star Wars and Disney Princess figures, but maybe I should get the kids to round them all up so I could take a picture of them or something.
Anyway, love that movie. Have the Diamond Edition on DVD & Blu-Ray (even though I don't own a blu-ray player yet...). Have the soundtrack on CD. Still have all the dialog and lyrics pretty well memorized. So, unlike when Disney did live-action versions of Cinderella (2015) and Beauty and the Beast (2017), I was a little hesitant about seeing this movie. I don't actually love the animated versions of those other stories, but Aladdin? Aladdin is very personally, particularly OURS.
But... I really like Guy Ritchie's filmmaking style. And I really like Will Smith. Honestly, I've never, ever been disappointed by Will Smith in a movie. Not a ton of actors I can say that about. So I went to see this yesterday.
And, y'all, I loved it. Not as much as I love the 2015 Cinderella, and possibly not as much as the animated original. But I can't wait to get my hands on the soundtrack. I already know I'll be buying the DVD. I'm considering taking my kids to see it (and covering my 7-yr-old's eyes so she doesn't get freaked out too much by some of the scarier bits). It's really, really well done.
I love the styling, how it's sort of a Disney-goes-to-Bollywood thing, loads and loads and LOADS of splashy, beautiful, fantastic costumes on talented dancers, lots of music, buckets of glitter and confetti -- it reminded me a lot of Bride and Prejudice (2004), actually. (To be very honest, that's the closest thing to a Bollywood musical I've ever watched. I should change that.) And I loved that they didn't stick quite so close to the animated movie as Beauty and the Beast did. I feel like, if you're not going to do something new with this story and these characters, then it's pointless to do a live-action remake. These animated movies are beloved, I know, but it's not like they're Shakespeare or something. I mean, we even shake up our Shakespeare most of the time, recutting the text or putting a play in a fresh setting, etc.
Um, I digress. Yeah. Loved that Jasmine and the Genie and Jafar all got more character development. Jasmine (Naomi Scott) actually felt less like a feminist statement and more like an intelligent and caring woman than she does in the animated one, where she's all, "Stop trampling on me because I'm female, grrrrr!" sometimes. Anyway. I also loved that she got to have a friend, her handmaiden Dalia (Nasim Pedrad), because I was always sad at how lonely Jasmine was, with only Rajah for a friend. I mean, Rajah is awesome, but... he is just a very sentient, sensible tiger, not a person.
And Genie (Will Smith)... Genie was wonderful. He got to be a lot more poignant, but still very funny and sharply wacky and buoyant. I LOVED the framing device they used for this, with a man on a boat telling the story to his kids, because it was a brilliant way of both grounding the story and making it into a legend. It works both ways, and it's so cool.
And then there's Aladdin (Mena Massoud). I was more worried about him from the trailers than anyone else in the movie, because I wasn't sure he was actually going to pull off being cool, awkward, smooth, and sincere. Aladdin is a pretty complicated character, actually, even in the animated movie, and I wasn't sure that I could see this guy doing all of the things.
He did all the things, folks. I totally dug him.
Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) was more than a one-note, sneering, finger-tapping leer. Nice. The fact that he had a backstory and more of a reason to want to take over the kingdom than just "I'm here to be the bad guy" made him a lot scarier, to me.
Only one thing in this really bugged me, actually, and that was Iago. I was quite disappointed by Iago :-( In the animated movie, he is flat-out hilarious. He was one of the first characters that taught me to recognize and appreciate sarcasm, and I will still quote some of his lines from time to time, as the situations present themselves. I was so excited when I learned that Alan Tudyk was voicing him in this, because dude, Alan Tudyk can be sarcastic and sassy with the best of them. Better than a lot of the best, actually. I mean, his voicework for K-2SO in Rogue One (2016) is about as perfect as it gets when you're talking Sarcastic Sidekicks. But they made Iago just sort of... boring. He's just plain evil, and he's more realistic I guess, but he's boring. (And also really freaky at one point.) So I am pouting about that :-(
But I'm happy that Jafar never turned into a giant CGI snake. That was a good move, I think.
And I LOVE that Genie got to have a little romance story of his own, because that was honestly the most adorable thing in the movie.
I learned something about myself while I was at the movie. I thought my favorite songs were "One Jump" and "A Whole New World," but I realized that nope, I actually love "Friend Like Me" and "Prince Ali" more. It's the Genie's songs I looked forward to the most and reveled in the hardest. Huh.
So, yeah, those are my thoughts on a movie that I hoped I would like and ended up loving.
Is this movie family friendly? Yup. It does get a little scary in a couple spots, so maybe not great for kids under 7 if they freak out over movies like mine do. There are also quite a few shots of women in cleavage-revealing clothes, and some belly dancers here and there, if those things worry you. Now you know.