After the under-whelming Dumbo failed to take flight two months ago – Aladdin has brought Disney back on track with their latest animation-to-live-action movie.
It is by no means in the league of some remakes – The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast are far superior – but generally conjures up the essence of the much-loved animation and brings elements of its charm with this Will Smith-led effort.
But it’s not Smith’s Genie who is the star of the show – it’s actually the likeable chemistry between Mena Massoud’s Aladdin and Naomi Scott’s Princess Jasmine.
And the film generally coasts by on their bright and breezy takes on the characters.
That’s not to say Smith does a bad job either. It’s hard for him to follow in the shoes of the late great Robin Williams, but he puts his stamp on the character – Big Willy style.
Much like with the aforementioned Beauty and the Beast, British director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) stays close to the original animated material, and puts his own subtle twists on proceedings without veering too far off topic.
If you’re a fan you know the story based in the desert kingdom of Agrabah. Kind-hearted street urchin Aladdin – with only his monkey pal Abu as his family – befriends Jasmine after she sneaks out of the palace, growing tired of her sheltered life.
But when the Sultan’s (Navid Negahban) right hand man, Royal Vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), sees the young thief sneaking out of the palace after returning a stolen possession to Jasmine, he promises Aladdin wealth if he can manoeuvre the Cave of Wonders to find a magic hidden lamp.
Jafar has his sights on becoming Sultan with the three wishes the Genie in the lamp can provide, but by several twists and turns Aladdin ends up with the treasure, and his first wish is to become a Prince – as that’s the only way he’ll ever be able to marry the Princess.
The story unfolds with the familiar songs interspersing (headlined by a magic carpet ride to the spine-tinglingly brilliant A Whole New World) eloquently throughout without overstaying their welcome, but even though the general premise provides the usual hidden messages of greed versus kindness – leading to the inevitable ending confrontation when Jafar eventually acquires the lamp – there’s always a likeability factor to the film throughout.
It plays it fairly safe – and is arguably a bit too long and has ‘action-free’ droughts that might bore younger children for spells – but Ritchie still conjures up a more than serviceable live action re-telling with Massoud and Scott destined for greater things.
Which means this lamp is well worth rubbing – to provide you with a wish of a Disney family entertainment fix.
CAST: MENA MASSOUD, NAOMI SCOTT, WILL SMITH, MARWAN KENZARI, NAVID NEGAHBAN, NASIM ANDERS, NUMAN ACAR & BILLY MAGNUSSEN
RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 8 MINS
DIRECTOR: GUY RITCHIE
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