Hola Dannie aqui,
Last night I went to a press screening of the new live-action "ALADDIN" I approached the film with much trepidation and did so alone as my man and son refused to accompany me. I could not blame them, having been writing up every trailer and movie clip I had yet to see anything that gave me hope for Guy Ritchie's "ALADDIN." Needless to say, I went in expecting a hot dumpster fire, nothing could prepare me for the mixed bag that Ritchie, Smith, and Disney were serving up.
I will start with the negative.
Jasmine's new song "Speechless" is a level of pandering to women that personally, I find demeaning. I am really sick of Hollywood shoving this message down our throats, and I know I am not the only female who finds this spoon feeding more like waterboarding. Honestly, this song was in no way shape or form empowering, it made me feel like they needed to point out with bright neon and reflective signage screaming "Hey Ladies! We haven't forgotten how you are all victims of male oppression!" Seriously, Hollywood if you want to empower the future generation make more characters like fucking Arya or Brienne Tarth, give us some tough ladies to look up to, not some princess screaming about "You can't break me" "You can't make me silent" for Christ sake. This song is so SO SO BAAAAAAADDDD.
Here give it a listen, and don't say I didn't warn you.
I'm now moving on to Jafar.
Marwan Kenzari is the actor they chose. 2019's "ALADDIN" chose Kenzari for the role, and I do not see why. This Jafar is bland, not a menacing looming figure of power, and also way too handsome, young, and well with the acting skills of a failed day time soap opera actor. I hate that I am writing such negative words about anyone, but it is my duty, to be honest. I fucking hate this Jafar, they took a grandiose villain and neutered him. The idea that a Sultan would have his highest advisor be a young man lacking the life experience of even a forty-year-old just doesn't fly with me. Also, Kenzari in no way has a face animated enough to ever play a top tier villain (unless acting lessons). For fuck's sake man raise an eyebrow, practice a maniacal laugh, do something evil. Villian's don't stare at you like a deer caught in headlights. It's pretty bad when an animated parrot steals the spotlight.
Now on to the songs...
The songs that they took from the original all had slight tempo changes, that can be startling at first but overall it is ok as the flamboyant and decadent spectacle of the musical numbers is visually intoxicating. Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and Jasmine's (Naomi Scott) "A Whole New World" song and segment worked quite well.
Now for the one, everyone is talking about, Will Smith's Genie's musical numbers. I posted a clip from the Prince Ali number and rocked back and forth in a dark corner while my ears bled. Good news! The number in its entirety is quite fun, why they shared the weakest part of the number I will never know. Smith's "Friend Like Me" was pretty darn good, and he made it his own by infusing some of his personality into several numbers and only throws out a handful of Robin Williams moments. I was terrified they were going to have Smith try to compete with Williams. I am happy to report that is not the case. This is Smith's Genie, and in all honesty, he does quite a good job. I was shocked too it's ok.
If I were to rate performances, Mena Massoud and Will Smith's are on top, and the next best character and performance was Nasim Pedrad as Jasmine's handmaiden Dalia. Nasim was charismatic, lovable, funny, and delightful whenever on screen. Naomi Scott's Jasmine was strong, beautiful, and headstrong. However, whenever Dalia is in a scene, she steals the show with her comedic awkwardness.
There were many points in the film that are readily identifiable as very Guy Ritchie-esque, via his editing and chase style. Also, there were moments that reminded me of some of the great Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd silent films of the past. You know like how things seemed sped up, and there were death-defying and bigger than life stunts.
So, how did I feel overall? This new "ALADDIN" was surprisingly better than I anticipated, however, there are some cringe-worthy disappointments. I think kids will love it, and parents will then show them the 1992 animated film and maybe just maybe some really awesome parents will show them the 1940 masterpiece "THE THIEF OF BAGDAD." That's the Aladdin film they should remake freaking "THE THIEF OF BAGDAD" that would be epic if handled correctly. To end this write up, I will say that 2019's "ALADDIN" is worth seeing, the visuals are astonishing a genuine cinematic love letter to Bollywood and middle eastern culture, the film is not perfect, but it is a family-friendly spectacle worth experiencing for the good and the bad.
Stay Strong, Live Good, Love Movies!
Dannie Helen L. Knowles aka Pekosa Peligrosa