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Monday, December 11, 2023

Aladdin Movie Review: The Magic Carpet Soars High with Entertainment

Disney has been on a roll with recreating animated classics and the latest one to release is Aladdin.

Aladdin (Mena Massoud), a young street urchin whose only friend is his kleptomaniac pet monkey Abu.

He soon falls in love with Jasmine (Naomi Scott), the princess of Agrabah who is set to marry a prince by her Sultan father (Navid Negahban).

When he and Abu find a magic lamp containing a Genie (Will Smith).

However, they must protect it from the wicked vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) and his loyal parrot Iago, who both want to rule Agrabah with the Genie’s wishes and spellbinding powers.

Directed by Guy Ritchie, who brings his singular flair for fast-paced, visceral action to the fictitious port city of Agrabah.

Filme Shilmy reviews this live-action adaptation.

Strong Visual Appeal

In comparison to the animation, this live-action version is enriched with opulent sets, beautiful cinematography and exuberant costumes.

As such, the picturesque cinematography and VFX enhances the visual appeal of the film. Especially sequences during the climax will definitely catch your attention.

It is almost as if Disney was inspired by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum-opus filmmaking style with a few pantomime touches.

However, the good thing is that the grandeur is in moderation and the splendour is not the ‘be-all’ of the film.

At times though, I felt the dance sequences emulate the stereotypical Bollywood numbers when Aladdin, in turn, is far from being a Hindi movie.

By doing so, the movie seems to be mixing various continents and cultures.

I sincerely hope that Western audiences are able to acknowledge and distinguish between the various cultures.

Guy Ritchie’s Work as a Director

Guy Ritchie has made some excellent films – Sherlock Holmes being my favourite.

What is common between Aladdin and Sherlock is the humour and camaraderie of both Male protagonists.

The moments between Genie and Aladdin are enamouring to watch.

Philosophical quotients, where the Genie tells Aladdin to just be himself, will be relevant to the younger viewers.

Furthermore, humour enriches the film’s atmosphere and makes the movie more enjoyable to watch.

The good thing is that the comedy is not childish nor is it cringe-worthy which will allow audiences of all ages to enjoy.

A Progressive & Mature Representation

Whilst the animation had the element of innocence and fun, it was quite problematic in its portrayal of patriarchy and suppression of women.

The suppression is seen frequently in this film as Jafar tells Jasmine that “she should only be seen not heard.”

But it is so refreshing to see that the princess refuses to accept the misogyny and rebels back against it.

It is great to witness this progressive representation – given that today’s society is synonymous with equality and empowerment.

Also, the movie adapts a more mature tone when depicting the romance between Jasmine and Aladdin.

Even the Genie finds his love in Dalia (Nasim Pedrad), Jasmine’s loyal handmaiden and confidante.

Thus, it is quite a relief that this version tries to include more angles, rather than just be a re-narration of the original movie.

Cast Performances

What also works effectively (to an extent) is the casting.

Mena Massoud is perfect as the titular role. He has that same innocence and good-looks that one would expect from Aladdin.

But the real show-stealer, for me, is Naomi Scott. She exhibits that feistiness, beauty and effervescence of Jasmine with such grace. The modern twist she brings to the character is impressive.

There is a certain charm about her and she has a solid screen presence. I could also take her seriously in a Bollywood role someday!

In the 1992 animation, the late Robin Williams tickled our funny bones as the Genie and it is obvious that enacting this part is a huge responsibility.

Will Smith steps into the shoes of Genie with such gusto. He brightens the celluloid through his comedic prowess and he uplifts the movie’s atmosphere.

A similar point can be mentioned for Nasim Pedrad who plays Dalia. Given that her character is a new addition to Aladdin, she essays the role well. Her comic-timing is apt.

What’s Bad?

Surprisingly, there are a lot of positive factors to Aladdin and there are no major negative points, as such.

However, I feel the film could’ve been much shorter especially in the second half, where it drags slightly.

I don’t believe that Marwan Kenzari was the right actor to be cast as Jafar.

Whilst Kenzari is a good actor, he just isn’t the right one for the antagonist role. I should’ve hated and feared him – but that impact lacks majorly. 

Marwan is not menacing enough and it would’ve been better if someone like Jim Sarbh was chosen for this role instead.

Overall, Aladdin is a fun, family entertainer and appeals to audiences of all ages.

The beauty of this Disney reboot is that it doesn’t live under the umbrella of the original animation, yet there is nostalgia through songs like ‘A Whole New World’ and ‘Prince Ali’.

Furthermore, the high visual appeal, impressive CGI and great performances/humour will leave you mesmerised.

Go and sit on this magic carpet to get entertained!

⭐⭐⭐.5 (3.5/5 stars)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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