Ok so here we go!
With so much flack this film has received since the teaser trailer of a blue Will Smith. I was not only not looking for much, but had a film critic in training with me, my 8 year old daughter. Now, unlike her I grew up seeing the animated original and so I knew that my expectations were not high for this real life version directed by…Guy Ritchie…really? Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,,,Snatch? Now Aladdin. Yeah that was my reaction as well.
Right off the bat let me get off my chest everything I saw wrong with this film. From the opening song Arabian Nights we know that Will Smith is not a singer. Sure, he can hold a note, but so can your cosplaying friend that loves singing at a karaoke bar. But lets remember this is Disney. Mary Poppins, Newsies, Beauty and The Beast, and the Original Aladdin. These are some high caliber musicals, so compared to that yeah it’s noticeable. Now another big issue was the accents. It was disappointing that although they give people of colour the spotlight, the accents are inconsistent. Jasmine, Aladdin,and Genie stick out with their American sounding English compared to the rest of the Arabic voices of the cast. Jafar feels less like that original serpent tongued sorcerer and more like an entitled bratty accountant. And the sultan is just there, I wanted more but he left a lot to be desired.
But here is where I surprise you! I actually really enjoyed this Aladdin. Although Ritchie took some creative liberties it works. Smith really did pull of the Genie perhaps not as grand as Robin. But what Will Smith lacks in voice and that William charisma he made up with true charm. The updates although visible, they transfer flawlessly. The dance numbers although modern and show the b-boy movement the choreography still keeps that Middle Eastern flair with classical moves and some peppered belly dancing. Now one thing that has really been overplayed lately is the “woman power” in every recent film. Although I believe it’s a great movement it has taken away from some films who have forced it in just because. Ritchie worked it marvelously into Jasmine’s subplot in this modern take of the film as she is granted more distinction as a leader of the people. Now some will have some trouble with this and scream that “that is not historically plausible” in a film with a CGI Monkey and flying magical carpet and a genie…
Again it is not a perfect film. But compared to some recent ones, talking to you Beauty and The Beast, this seems to be a step in the right direction. It’s ok to change some thing, but remember that you can’t mess with the originals to the point that it changes the essence of what it was. Sometimes you just have to keep the magic.
P.S. My daughter gave it 9/10…she deducted a point due to theater having the volume way too loud.