The live-action remake of Aladdin has finally arrived — and it made me feel as if I was watching this story for the first time — and that’s a good thing.
From the 1992 classic animated Disney movie with songs like “Prince Ali” and “A Whole New World” ingrained into our modern conscience, a remake always has a lot of us worried. Will it live up to the original? Will it be a letdown? Will the jokes come across as cheesy? Will it not be as good?
The world of Aladdin has always taken my breath away. From the original music coupled with Arabian Nights, there has always been a sense of mystique, wonder and magic to Aladdin. And, its storyline regarding a “street rat” turned wannabe prince whose granted three wishes tries to woo the heart of the princess is something that still makes my heart melt as he takes her on a flying carpet ride to see the world (ugh, mush).
The Guy Ritchie remake, starring Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine and Will Smith as the Genie, was impressive as ever. The world of Aladdin really came to life in this 2019 remake, as the production design was incredible, with grandiose colors, worlds, jewels and people (Gemma Jackson also designs the world of Game of Thrones, which I do not watch but I can only imagine is incredible from all pop culture’s fascination with it).
For starters, Mena and Naomi make an incredibly attractive Aladdin and Jasmine. Mena’s big eyes and incredibly charming smile took my heart away, and his “street rat” tendencies and boyish “Do you trust me?” were charming. He really embodies the Aladdin I had imagined growing up, from his mannerisms to his way of wooing the princess, as it felt genuine, fervent, and their chemistry charming.
Naomi (who I am a big fan of from Disney Channel’s Lemonade Mouth, and also known as the Pink Power Ranger in the remake), felt like a relatable and down-to-earth Princess whose natural beauty and strong demeanor paired well for Jasmine. I definitely appreciate how this modern remake gave more layers to her character, not slapping you in the face with outright feminism, but with small comments of her wanting to rule the world of Agrabah, knowing and wanting what’s best for her people even if a female sultan had never existed, and even refusing to be silent with a new original song “Speechless.” It felt genuine, appropriate and right for a Princess who knows her worth, knows what’s just, and refuses to be just a “prize to be won.”
While 1992’s animated Aladdin featured a Jasmine who was eager to reject the idea of an arranged marriage to find a new sultan, the live-action remake has Jasmine exploring her own ambition to lead her people — an inspiring and timely addition.
(As I will lowkey fangirl Naomi: I am incredibly happy, proud and excited for her! Her moments in the film had me so proud as I’ve seen her as someone like myself onscreen, and to see her succeed throughout the years just warms my heart — especially to the moment below. Love you Nay!)
As the infamous Genie enters the picture, I have to applaud Will Smith. Many may be worried about Will’s performance following up the iconic Robin Williams, but Will Smith gave the Genie his own flair in a way that was enjoyable, genuine, entertaining and completely his own. He didn’t stray away from our modern understanding of the Genie, yet his quick-witted jokes, song, playful demeanor and like-ability all came to life in this film. We’ve truly “never had a friend” like the Genie, and the added touch to a love interest and more of Will’s swag just made me smile even more.
As a whole, I thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed Aladdin. I had myself sighing in relief at how wonderful and beautiful the world was depicted. I was immersed and completely entranced into the magic of Agrabah. The casting and timing didn’t have me question anything. The songs were made the cast’s own as they didn’t try too hard to make it sound like the original. They sang it within their own comfortable ranges that made the songs a sweet ode and true remake to the originals. (Also, who else had Vanessa Hudgens High School Musical flashbacks during Princess Jasmine’s song segments? Ha.)
Regardless, I’d happily see this movie again and rave it to all of my friends to see it again. Aladdin has always been one of my favorite Disney stories (Aladdin and Jasmine were the first character signatures I received as a little girl in the ’90s at Disneyland too!). This remake really brought the world of Aladdin to life for me, and I felt like a little girl again. I loved it.
Below is a clip from the world premiere of Aladdin in Los Angeles at the El Capitan Theatre this past Tuesday:
I’d love to know your thoughts as well. Share below and let me know if you’ve seen it!