Disney’s live-action films are dominating cinemas as people’s favourite childhood stories have been given a coat of fresh paint and re-introduced to the world. Aladdin is the latest flick to undergo a transformation, and Disney fans have been holding their breath in anticipation of which was either going to be a massive success or a crippling disappointment.
I was particularly sceptical walking into the cinema as the only glimpses of the film I had seen was the image of a young and not so creepy looking Jaffar and a poorly animated Will Smith as The Genie. So it is safe to say that, despite Aladdin being a standout Disney flick – my expectations were low.
However it seems that I judged a book by its cover, a thing many a Disney film taught me not to do, as the movie turned out to be an absolute banger. One of the film’s greatest strength was their impeccable casting calls.
Will Smith was cast as The Genie and had some massive shoes to fill, as Robbin Williams original interpretation was nothing short of legendary. But Smith was able to do the original character justice, while also injecting some of his own unique flair. His musical performances were more like actual singing than Williams’ talking-to-tune versions of the songs, and he had the right level of bravado to fill out the high energy songs. He was also incredibly funny, inserting the right amount of dry and sarcastic humour to keep adult audience members engaged but not letting go of the larger than life flamboyant character. Smith was a definite highlight of the film, and the animations seemed to have had a severe overhaul – which was relieving.
As previously stated, the casting of Jaffar was somewhat controversial in my eyes. The original role was a creepy and weathered old man, but the new character was young and looked almost too soft-spoken to cause any mayhem. However, the Marwan Kenzari fully embraced the cruel and creepy character and was incredibly convincing. Age aside, I can see why he won the role.
Visually the film was stunning. Much of it was set in the brutal dessert slums, but the flick did a great job of Disney-ifying the setting to make it bold, beautiful and totally mesmerising. Some historical purists might complain that the film romanticised the dire situations many of these villagers lived in, but a kid-friendly musical wouldn’t benefit from a brutal but realistic presentation. It was certainly not the film’s intention to be completely historically accurate if the impromptu singing and English-speaking characters were not evidenced enough, and that is perfectly alright.
To summarise, this was definitely Disney’s best live-action film yet and well worth the watch. With such larger than life characters, dance sequences and settings, the flick is certainly worth paying to see it in cinemas.