By: Julia Wengier | Editor in Chief
May 29, 2019
Disney’s “Aladdin” was released on May 24, 2019 as a live-action remake of the original 1992 animated film. The story follows “street rat” Aladdin (Mena Massoud) as he meets Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), who is permitted only to marry a prince. Wary of Jafar’s (Marwan Kenzari) dangerous ambition for power, Aladdin rubs a magic lamp which releases Genie (Will Smith), who grants him three wishes. Throughout the film, Genie helps Aladdin become a prince and “win” Princess Jasmine with his prince persona. Trailers and advertisement built excitement and anticipation for a film that did not live up to its expectations.
The most successful aspect of this film was the plot itself, as it was adapted from the original film and edited to filter some suggestive, sexist scenes. The plot featured Jasmine as the same confident and ambitious princess, but more in control of her fate than the original movie’s Jasmine. A notable change occurred at the end of the movie, when Jasmine became sultan, herself, rather than her father changing the law to allow a commoner to marry her. This plot empowers women rather than telling them to follow their dreams at the service of the men in their lives.
The movie featured music both adapted from the original version and created as new compositions. In each instance, the music which so characterizes Aladdin was lost in a bland rendition and was washed out by an overuse of auto-tune. Both vocalists and instrumentalists fell flat, as the intention to keep music relevant backfired; the only context to watch this remake is in this decade, but the original music is a timeless composition. Furthermore, by choosing actors for their names rather than their talents, creators had to account for sub-par vocalist skills with auto-tune technology. The music lost its original feel and contribution to the mood, favoring instead impossibly perfect attention to pitch and quality of voice. In other words, all character in the music was lost. Math teacher Mrs. Compean, however, was quite entertained by the movie.
“I liked the scene where he comes as Prince Ali, because it was colorful,” math teacher Mrs. Compean said. “It makes me want to get up and dance.”
A highlight of the film was Will Smith’s Genie, who was more Will Smith than Robin William’s original character. Although Smith’s acting was almost not present, his character still served to be comic relief and brought a more Americanized “street” feel of the more Arabic culture. Mena Massoud’s Aladdin was a flat character who was more unmemorable than charming or witty. Jasmine and Jafar were cast properly, as Naomi Scott and Marwan Kenzari perfectly pictured the depth of their characters. Dalia, a new character played by Nasim Pedrad, also served as comic relief and a refreshing addition to the “Aladdin” story.
“It doesn’t live up to the classic, but the addition of Will Smith made the movie comical and entertaining” senior Sarah Lindsey said. “I felt like he made his own rendition of the genie instead of trying to copy the classic.”
“Aladdin” had a somewhat empty feel to it, to the point where the audience is constantly aware that they are watching a movie, rather than being sucked into the plot. The set and costumes looked visibly cheap, shimmery, and fake rather than authentic. Unfortunately, this lack of attention to detail significantly drew from what could have been an impressive film.