By: Emily Morris
Wednesday, September 4
“A whole new world” would be an excellent descriptor of Disney’s revamped live action Aladdin. Patrons of the original 1992 cartoon Aladdin and emerging Disney fans alike should be able to connect to an action-packed, yet heartwarming film.
Aladdin lives day by day roaming the streets of Agrabah with his thrifty monkey companion, Abu until he meets a charitable young woman, which he assumes his the handmade of the Princess. With a lovestruck look still on Aladdin’s face, the young woman rushes away to address an arriving Prince from a nearby country.
Realizing Aladdin has actually fallen for Princess Jasmine, he negotiates a treacherous deal with Jafar, the sultan’s advisor, to become a suitable match for a princess. Aladdin is instructed to retrieve the magic lamp from the Cave of Wonders for Jafar, but Jafar abandons their mission and Aladdin once he mistakenly thinks he has the lamp.
Then Genie swirls into existence just as it appears Aladdin has stolen his last valuable, the magic lamp. Aladdin, using his 3 wishes, embarks on a magical journey to win the heart of Princess Jasmine and save the Kingdom of Agrabah from Jafar’s greedy clutches.
While sticking to the childlike story, Aladdin has introduced a point of connection for the romantic musical enthusiast and the action-lover.
Aladdin and Jasmine’s characters have defined independence that mesh well, creating a rare equality in a fairytale relationship. Simply, touches of feminism are prevalent throughout the film.
As far as action goes, the Cave of Wonders could leave a theater with a lasting rumble from its grandness. The lion-headed monument isn’t the only animal that leaves a lasting impression. Iago, Jafar’s parrot, moves from being a snitch into an unearthly monster that Aladdin must face.
Aside from specific insights, many may focus on comparison of memorable 1992 moments. The long awaited first scene of Aladdin some may be thrown for a loop. A father begins a singsong tale with his children in eager anticipation, unlike the original, but this clever introduction eventually answers a few curiosities—music’s importance and Genie’s final destination after he’s free— of the 1992 version.
The scene soon faded into an “Arabian night,” where Mena Massoud jumped into Aladdin’s witty “street rat” shoes. Although some plot points are elaborated from the cartoon, every catchy musical note and some new favorites were featured brilliantly. Massoud offered a personable interpretation of Aladdin’s timeless character with comical banter between street vendors, a gooey eyed introduction with Princess Jasmine and Jafar’s heart-pounding betrayal.
Despite the clear focus on Aladdin’s story, Princess Jasmine and Genie also develop dynamic roles. Jasmine is surely not a passive storybook princess; she has royal ambitions and notable independence in all her decisions. Genie moves past comical relief with a love interest and a fuller embellishment of his friendship with Aladdin.
Will Smith’s role of Genie was particularly pressured because of Robin Williams celebrated portrayal of him in 1992.
“I know Genies don’t have Feet… But you left some Big Shoes to fill,” said Smith in a recent Facebook post.
Smith effectively took the most memorable ques from Williams’s acting and added his own flair. In “Friend Like Me,” Smith followed the traditional tune, while swapping out a couple words for personalization and laughter. Robin Williams’s Genie could not be recreated, but Smith performed with thoughtfulness at a level that should leave fans with full hearts.
Each rendition of these timeless characters came together with precision and tenderness. Movie goers cannot expect to experience the 1992 Aladdin in theaters, but they should be impressed by the merriment of childhood memories and modern additions.
Starring: Naomi Scott, Will Smith and Mena Massoud
Lowdown: Aladdin begins an adventure in hopes of meeting his true love and saving his home after discovering a magical lamp with a comical genie inside.
Backgrounder: Following the original 1992 cartoon “Aladdin,” this film had an iconic memory to recreate.
Feature Photo: New York Times