Disney is up to its old tricks again, releasing a live-action version of the Oscar winning animated feature Aladdin. The plan has worked pretty will with live-action remakes of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, so what about this whole new world for Aladdin?
Well, but it is a comfortable one, and colorful too. Mena Massoud’s “Aladdin” is a big-hearted, havoc-causing street kid with a quick eye and fast fingers, lifting what he needs to get by. His world is upended when he meets Naomi Scott’s “Princess Jasmine.” She’s undercover, having escaped the walls of the palace and efforts to marry her off to a prince from a neighboring kingdom. Enter the evil Jaffar, the Sultan’s second-in-command and they guy who’s pulling the strings. He wants to pull them all and so after Aladdin invades the palace, Jaffar captures our hero and forces him to enter the cave of wonders. His mission is to grab the magic lamp. It’s all going according to plan until a slight catastrophe takes place and a very blue Will Smith emerges as the “Genie.”
If you’ve seen the original, you know where this is going. Smith is charming as the “Genie.” There are sure to be comparison’s to Robin Williams’ blue guy, but that would be unfair. Williams was one-of-a-kind and Smith brings some laid-back cool to the role. The real revelation here is Scott’s “Jasmine.” She’s a young woman who wants to be treasured for her brains, not her beauty. And thanks to the script co-written by director Guy Richie the emphasis is placed on her desire to lead her people, not only on the happily-ever-after.
Aladdin is expected to be a big winner at the box office and perhaps an even bigger winner in the new digital world when it comes to DVD and streaming sales.