The second live-action adaptation of a Disney animated classic to be released this year (after Dumbo and before The Lion King), Aladdin evokes mixed reactions from many cinema-goers.
One reason is that no one believes anyone can come close to matching the late Robin Williams who provided the voice for the Genie in the 1992 animated version.
Fans who grew up with the animated version also feel the original is brilliant and should not be messed with.
They are also worried about director Guy Ritchie’s capability as he has not made a decent movie in years.
Nonetheless, this live-action version has managed to capture much of the charm of the animated version, and Smith does provide an adequate amount of laughs as the wise-cracking Genie.
The story begins with a father telling his two children a story, and the scene shifts to Agrabah, where we meet thief-with-a-heart-of-gold Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and his monkey Abu.
At the marketplace, he meets and falls for a beautiful girl whom he thinks works in the palace but is, in fact, Princess Jasmine (Scott), the only daughter of the Sultan (Navid Negahban).
Meanwhile, the power-crazy royal vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) wants to wage war on the neighbouring states to further his own political agenda.
To do that, he needs the help of a certain magical lamp.
Jafar has to find a ‘diamond in the rough’ to enter a magical cave to retrieve the lamp, and he sees his victim in Aladdin.
Anyone who has seen the animated version knows what happens next.
While most of the plot is similar to that of the animated version, what sets them apart is the strong female empowerment message here.
A new song, Speechless (composed by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul of La, la Land and The Greatest Showman fame), sang by the princess (Naomi Scott) helps reinforce that message.
The other songs are reworked versions of Alan Menken original compositions from the animated movie.
The actors do a good enough job with their roles.
Some like Nasim Pedrad who plays Jasmine’s free-spirited best friend and confidante Dalia and Billy Magnussen who plays a flamboyant suitor are memorable despite their minor roles.
My only gripe is that Kenzari fails to embody Jafar, voiced as a sinister calm villain by Jonathan Freeman in the animated version. Kenzari is a talented actor, but he comes off as more annoying than scary.
Still, for those who have enjoyed the animated version, this film is just as fun.