[Movie Review] Aladdin (2019)


USA | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy | PG-13 | Director: Guy Ritchie | Writers: John August, Guy Ritchie | Cast: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott | English | 128 minutes

Aladdin is the absolute holy grail of Disney animations for me. Must've seen it a hundred times over and memorized all the dialogues by heart just alongside The Incredibles. I'm saying that I have my fair share of expectations. And guess what, I sincerely loved this live-action initiative. Keep an open mind, keep an open heart. Give it a chance. You might just like it.

I am going to stay unbothered, what with the amount of negativity this film has had to deal with. Hey, maybe it's just not their cup of tea. For what it's worth, though, I think most people are being too skeptical and/or too nitpicky, maybe for a good reason: we're talking about what, one of the top three Disney animated classics? Yes, I understand, and I respect people's protectiveness over the beloved source material.

And yet, Naomi Scott is phenomenal, Mena Massoud is spot-on, and Will Smith (whose take on the genie I greatly enjoyed) is a scene-stealer. Their three-way chemistry is electric; the very heart of this film.

Loved the production design, the sets, the smooth CGI. Loved Jasmine's spotlight. Loved the way they show how Agrabah is a cultural intersection of many Asian identities (let's settle this for good: Agrabah is originally a hybrid between Arabic and Indian cultures. Arabian Nights, "by Allah", "salaam", Agra-bah, Taj Mahal-inspired palace, Bengali tiger for a royal pet...). Onboard with the genie's humanization including his subplot with the handmaid. Appreciative of the music (them tiny bits of Proud of Your Boy in the score... Broadway fans, anyone?). Would've preferred Jafar to be the campy menace that he is rather than a mere "frustrated ambitious man". Didn't love the Sultan's change of disposition, probably the worst creative adjustment this movie employs.

Otherwise Guy Ritchie offers us an earnest and vibrant effort, a more realistic approach to the Aladdin tale that doesn't deprive it of extravagance or magic. Granted, it never comes close to the degree of wonder the original generates, but it's a faithful adaptation with its own flavor and energy.

What more can I ask? It's already ten times better than the rest of Disney's live-action remakes (save for The Jungle Book, of course.)

Review written by: Nabilla Arsyafira