Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen
Genre: Drama, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical
Release date: 24 May 2019
Running Time: 128 Minutes
Budget: Rs. $183 million
A street urchin named Aladdin (Mena Massoud) has relied on thievery and his pet monkey Abu to survive the streets of Agrabah. His life is transformed when he meets and falls in love with Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). Then an encounter with the Grand vizier, Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) leads to his meeting a Genie (Will Smith) who grants him three wishes.
Aladdin is a 2019 American musical fantasy film directed by Guy Ritchie, who co-wrote the screenplay with John August. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, it is a live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1992 animated film of the same name, which was based on the eponymous folktale from One Thousand and One Nights. The film stars Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, and Billy Magnussen. In the film, street urchin Aladdin finds a magic lamp and must use it to win over Princess Jasmine and defeat the evil Jafar.
In October 2016, Disney announced Ritchie would direct a live-action Aladdin remake. Smith was the first member of the cast to join, signing on to portray Genie in July 2017, and later that month Massoud and Scott were confirmed for the two lead roles. Principal photography began that September at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England, also filming in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan, and lasted until January 2018. The film also pays tribute to Robin Williams, who voiced Genie in the animated feature and died in 2014.
Aladdin is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on May 24, 2019. The film received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the performances of Massoud, Smith, and Scott, the costumes and the musical numbers, though it received criticism for not adding anything new to the original film, as well as the changes made to Jafar’s character.
Aladdin: Movie Trailer
Aladdin: Movie Plot
Aladdin, a young street urchin living in the desert kingdom of Agrabah along with his pet monkey, Abu, rescues and befriends Princess Jasmine of Agrabah, who is upset that the law requires her to marry a prince instead of the one she loves.
Meanwhile, Jafar, a Royal Vizier, grows tired of being “second best”. He and his parrot Iago thus seek a magic lamp hidden within the Cave of Wonders to become Sultan. Both are told that only one person is worthy to enter: “the diamond in the rough”, whom Jafar later identifies as Aladdin. Later, Aladdin returns a bracelet belonging to Jasmine’s mother and the palace guards capture Aladdin on Jafar’s orders.
Jafar frees Aladdin and Abu and, after telling Aladdin that he can make him rich enough to impress Jasmine, has him retrieve the lamp. Inside the cave, Aladdin finds a magic carpet and obtains the lamp. Defying Aladdin’s instruction to touch nothing but the lamp, Abu grabs a ruby. Aladdin, Abu, and the carpet rush to escape the cave as it collapses. Aladdin gives the lamp to Jafar, who throws both Aladdin and Abu back into the cave, though not before Abu steals the lamp back.
Trapped, Aladdin rubs the lamp and meets the Genie who lives inside it. The Genie grants Aladdin three wishes. Aladdin tricks the Genie into freeing them all from the cave without using a wish and then uses his first wish to assume the identity of a prince to woo Jasmine, and promises to use his third wish to free the Genie from servitude. Back in Agrabah, Aladdin, as “Prince Ali Ababwa”, arrives with a large host, but Jasmine is unimpressed.
Later, Aladdin takes Jasmine on a ride on the magic carpet while the Genie goes out with her handmaiden, Dalia. When she deduces his true identity, Aladdin convinces Jasmine that he only dresses as a peasant to escape the stresses of royal life. However, Jafar discovers Aladdin’s true identity and threatens him in order to reveal where he had put the lamp. Aladdin refuses and Jafar throws him out of the tower into the sea. Abu and the carpet arrive with the lamp, and Aladdin rubs it before drowning.
Genie rescues Aladdin and, after speaking with Jasmine, they help expose Jafar’s evil plot, and the Sultan has Jafar arrested. After being offered the position as heir to the Sultan, Aladdin, fearing that he will lose Jasmine if the truth is revealed, reluctantly breaks his promise and refuses to free the Genie, upsetting him.
Meanwhile, Iago steals the dungeon keys and frees Jafar, who steals the lamp from Aladdin with his own street smarts and becomes the Genie’s new master. Jafar uses his first two wishes to become Sultan and the world’s most powerful sorcerer, then exiles Aladdin and Abu to a frozen wasteland and threatens to kill Dalia and the Sultan unless Jasmine agrees to marry him. However, the Genie has the carpet retrieve Aladdin.
As they proceed with the wedding ceremony, Aladdin returns to the palace and Jasmine tries to help him steal the lamp back, but Jafar notices it. After a brief chase, Iago, becoming a large bird from Jafar’s sorcery, steals the lamp once more, but then loses it when the Sultan interrupts Jafar’s sorcery. Using his magic, Jafar overpowers the heroes, destroying the carpet in the process. However, Aladdin taunts Jafar for being “second best” to the Genie, tricking him into using his last wish to become an all-powerful genie himself. Now bound to his new lamp, Jafar ends up trapped inside it, taking Iago with him.
With Agrabah returned to normal, the Genie banishes Jafar’s lamp to the desert and restores the carpet and everything back to normal. He advises Aladdin to use his third wish to regain his royal title so the law will allow him to stay with Jasmine or to use the wish to erase the part of the law that obliges a princess to marry a prince. Instead, Aladdin decides to keep his promise and free the Genie.
The Sultan declares that Jasmine will be the next ruler, not whoever her future husband will be, and, realizing Aladdin and Jasmine’s love, he tells her she may change the law to allow her to marry whom she chooses. The Genie leaves to explore the world as a mariner with Dalia and his two children while Aladdin and Jasmine get married and start their new life together.
Aladdin: Movie Review
So how does the latest of Disney’s run of live-action remakes fare, you ask? Well, it’s fine – not as bad as you expect, but not great, with some enjoyable aspects and some issues.
Starting with the positives, Mena Massoud as Aladdin was a superb casting choice. If you could imagine the animated Al in live action form, Massoud would be it. But you’re probably more curious about how Will Smith does filling the giant shoes of Robin Williams. Well, it’s a relief that Smith chooses not to do an impersonation of the late, great actor (although it initially appears that way from the Cave of Wonders scene) opting to play Genie as, well, Will Smith. He doesn’t have quite the vitality of his earlier years, and his singing range isn’t the ideal fit for the ‘Aladdin’ soundtrack, but Smith does bring an infectious enthusiasm and singalong quality to the numbers, which similarly worked effectively in Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ remake.
A couple of things are added such as new character Dalia (Nasim Pedrad), the handmaiden and best friend of Jasmine, a new song, and more courting scenes between Aladdin and Jasmine. It’s pretty loyal to the original aside from that. While “Arabian Nights” is lackluster, the film picks up substantially with “One Jump Ahead” (thanks to Massoud), and “Friend Like Me” – once you get over the mildly terrifying-looking blue Will smith – is good fun; you can’t deny it has pizzazz. The Cave of Wonder scene and magic carpet are also done well but “Prince Ali”, in spite of being full of colour and spectacle, has a staged feel. It’s a strange choice of director in Guy Ritchie, best-known for ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ and ‘Snatch’, and one gets the sense that he doesn’t quite understand how to direct a musical, unlike, say, Bill Condon (‘Dreamgirls’, ‘Chicago’) or Dexter Fletcher (‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Rocketman’.). You’d almost forget it was even directed by him other than the obligatory Guy-Ritchie-slo-mo-shots.
One of the greatest sins of the movie though is its villains. Marwan Kenzari is completely underwhelming as Jafar. You just never believe in his villainy. And gone is the smart alec, cheeky characterization of Iago (voiced fabulously originally by Gilbert Gottfried, here by Alan Tudyk) and in its place is a boring, bad guy parrot. There’s also something of a feminist narrative hemmed in whereby Jasmine wants to be Sultan – and is pointedly told she lacks experience, and that her role is to be seen and not heard – which feels inorganic. Naomi Scott is good and she sings “A Whole New World” with Massoud well but it’s a dull rendition compared to the animation. Like much of the movie, it’s irritatingly CGI heavy. And when there isn’t CGI, the movie looks so blatantly like a set that you get the sense, again, that either Guy Ritchie wasn’t sure of what he was doing, or Disney execs insisted on the film being as bright and showy as possible to distract from its flaws.
There is something of a pointlessness one feels watching the film. It’s over 2 hours long, so why not just stay home and watch the original? Or if you want to see it in live action, why not check out the hit musical on the West End or Broadway (and indeed, the movie often has the feel of a broadcasted stage show)? The absence of Williams means the new ‘Aladdin’ never has quite the charm of the animation, but it’ll leave you with a smile on your face thanks to those delightful musical numbers.