This remake of the 1992 Aladdin has had high expectations from the beginning, which were linked to the director who is known to follow a specific style, as well as the original story of the movie that has been referred to as a classic by people of all ages ever since it’s 1992 release.

A True Remake

Aladdin is directed by Guy Ritchie. Ritchie has directed films like Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword etc. Known for his action oriented films, Ritchie was expected to follow his personal filmmaking styles that make his films unique.

The film stars Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Will Smith as the Genie, Naomi Scott as Jasmine and Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. Aladdin is a remake of the 1992 Aladdin which followed the story of a thief who meets the disguised, rebellious Princess of Agrabah, Princess Jasmine. Jafar, the Royal Advisor, desires to attain a magic lamp from the Cave of Wonders and orders Aladdin to retrieve the lamp. It’s revealed to Aladdin that there is a genie contained within the lamp. Through his help, he hopes to become capable enough to marry the princess. Doing so, he deals with numerous challenges that are scattered throughout the one and a half hour duration of the original film. That one and a half hour of run time had an added half an hour for the remake. 

Overall, Aladdin was bright and vibrant which was due to its visual effects as well as the cinematography that had to mold together to illustrate a beautiful movie. Out of all Disney remakes, Aladdin had the highest potential for the vibrancy and color to be incorporated into film. The opening of the film was absolutely breathtaking, adding the right elements with the sound effects and VFX that could portray what the entire movie could be like – which was expected from Ritchie. The production design of the movie demonstrated hard work and a desire to make Agrabah and its people more authentic than what was presented in the original film was successful. Composer Alan Menken and costume designer Michael Wilkinson had a significant role to play in bringing this authenticity to Aladdin.

Will Smith went above and beyond

The cast was carefully chosen for this widely loved film and throughout the film, that careful choice was reflected. Mena Massoud was what a live-action Aladdin was supposed to be like and his dedication to portray Aladdin successfully shows. He went beyond the expectations that were created through the trailers. It also shows how Naomi Scott was a great choice to portray Jasmine. She demonstrated what Jasmine in the present day would be like and her confidence radiates throughout.

However, just like the original film Genie shines the brightest among all the characters. Will Smith’s choice was criticized as the trailers were released but whatever the trailers revealed don’t even show 10% of Genie and how brilliantly Will Smith portrayed him. Additionally, Smith brings his own version of the character forward while simultaneously paying homage to Robin Williams’ classic version. However, Jafar’s character seems tepid in the film. Audience went with high expectations for the classic antagonist but walked out feeling as if the character didn’t reach its maximum potential to shine through the film.

Furthermore, direction wise, I went into Aladdin expecting to see a Guy Ritchie film. It was perhaps in the beginning where it felt like a Ritchie film but as it went on, his choice for the director seemed insignificant because there wasn’t any Guy Ritchie in the film. However, there were perhaps two or three shots that reminded the audience of Ritchie’s original style. Also, the technical aspects of the film were choreographed pleasantly enough to not just make it a good Disney live-action film but a good film in general.

Lack of Directorial Presence

My main problem with the film was the lack of directorial presence. If the goal of the film was to make a live-action version of Aladdin, they succeeded but there was a lack of originality that could have been spattered here and there. Out of all Disney films and Guy Ritchie films, this film had the most potential to show a strong directorial presence that would have made Aladdin a completely joyful experience and a new take on the classic version. The hard work of the production design team, the actors and the visual effects team is overshadowed by the mildness of the film. Where mildness is concerned, Jafar’s character takes the winning trophy. The real portrayal of Jafar is forgotten in this movie because there is hardly that presence.

However, in conclusion, staying true to the story of the original and incorporating newer modern day elements along with the authenticity and vibrancy made this film a joyful experience regardless of the scattered elements that missed the mark. The audience will be glad to see the 1992 Aladdin as a 2019 Aladdin. In my opinion, by itself, Aladdin (2019) is a beautiful and lively movie that never reached the true potential it was designed to reach.