Disney has given us a lot of entertaining flicks in the past, be it in animated or live-action form. This year, they decided to bring two feature-length animated flicks from the Disney archives to ‘life’ and just released the first live-action movie Aladdin, a remake of 1992 classic. Since the other one – The Lion King – is still a month away from release, let’s analyse the reasons why the new Aladdin is something to cherish and not to be missed at any cost.
1. It gives us back our Fresh Prince of Bel Air
His name appears before the actor playing the title character for a reason; this is Will Smith’s vehicle all along. The actor plays the genie and in his own way, pays tribute to Robin Williams by not deviating much from the character played by him in the original, except for maybe in some places where it was necessary. He gets to sing, dance and be himself and who knows he could have been a contender for the role had he been an active film actor back in the day. He doesn’t do a better job than Robin Williams but in his own way, carves a niche for his fans who were waiting for him to return to the genre he excels in.
2. Mena Massoud shines as happy-go-lucky Aladdin
When he was announced as the next Aladdin, many criticised Disney for choosing the Egyptian-Canadian actor who had not much experience. However, Mena Massoud proved his selection right by being the Aladdin we all wanted, who could charm his way into the heart of the Princess, be a conman par excellence and even sing and dance like a person under a ‘spell’. His chemistry with the genie was exceptional, especially the scene where they two meet for the first time, in the Cave of Wonders.
3. A fairy tale done right is a fairy tale alright!
Usually, Hollywood casts American actors in films dealing with stories that originate from the Middle East; Prince of Persia being the prime example. Thankfully, this time they have cast actors from the region such as Mena Massoud (Aladdin) who was born in Egypt, Naomi Scott (Princess Jasmine) whose mother has roots in India, Marwan Kenzari (Jafar) is a Dutch actor born in a Tunisian family whereas Navid Negahban (Sultan), Nasim Pedrad (Dalia) and Numan Acar (Hakim) also belong to Iran and Turkey.
4. It belongs more to Bollywood than Hollywood!
You may not believe it but Aladdin is more Bollywood than Hollywood; there is a song and/or dance number at every corner and it has been very well done. You don’t except something below par when there is Will Smith around who lights the screen every time he appears on it. The dance sequence where a ‘clueless’ Prince Ali dances to impress the Princess is one of those scenes that make you watch the film for the second time.
5. It is director Guy Ritchie’s most realistic work
Ever since he has been making films, Guy Ritchie’s name is associated with over-the-top movies, where the only thing that resembles reality is death. Be it Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, RocknRolla, Sherlock Holmes or The Man from U.N.C.L.E., he has hardly made something as decent as Aladdin where despite the presence of a magic lamp, a genie, and a sorcerer, things move the way they should in a children’s film. Simple and effective!
6. Will Smith’s antics take you back in the 90s
Before he became one of the most successful actors in Hollywood, before he did unacceptable films like After Earth and Focus, he was the actor who delivered consecutive hits in the late 90s, was one of the top names in music and made you laugh uncontrollably, be it in Bad Boys or Men In Black series. The role of the genie in Aladdin takes us back in the 90s as it lets him shake a leg, make the audience laugh and above all, perform all the songs from the classic Aladdin flick where Robin Williams did the same, but only with his vocals.
7. Zayn Malik represents Pakistan through ‘A Whole New World’
After Zayn Malik performed the cover version of “A Whole New World” with Zhavia Ward for Aladdin, it was appreciated by all, his fans or not. In fact, many even told Disney that they should have selected him as the lead to play Aladdin since he (they believed) resembled the animated character more than the Mena Massoud. The former One Direction singer represents the many Pakistanis who made the film a huge success on the film’s release in Pakistan on Eidul Fitr, one week after its worldwide release.
8. Naomi Scott’s rendition of Speechless
And then there is Naomi Scott’s rendition of the live-action version’s original song Speechless that seems to resonate with the struggle of women all around the world. In fact, many men have also shared the song on social media because of the message it carries. It makes you want to speak your mind, not be subdued by others and do whatever you like, especially if it benefits others. The actress surprised all by delivering the song perfectly, and her onscreen beauty makes it a perfect combo for the live action version of Aladdin.
9. It betters the original story in many ways
Believe it or not, the new Aladdin does away with many of the things that shouldn’t have been in the original, such as the scene where the Princess and Aladdin are chased after they reach his hideout or Jafar disguised as an old man or the narrator who had nothing to do in the conclusion of the first film. There are more changes in the live-action version that you will find amusing, such as a lady love added for the genie, a dance routine that reminds one of Jim Carrey’s Mask and the Visual Effects that make it all the more 2019-ish.
10. Updates are always for the better
In the original version, the genie wanted to be ‘free’ whereas here he wants to be a human. Deep thinking by the writers considering we would do wonders if we act like humans, instead of free which we are. The makers also did away with the scene where Prince Jasmine and Jafar share an awkward kiss. That scene was unacceptable back then while in today’s children friendly Disney, it would have been detested more. Instead, they added a sequence where Princess Jasmine challenges Jafar at the climax, albeit unsuccessfully, but registers her protest in the process. These ‘updates’ have made the film faster, more acceptable and a little bit more interesting, otherwise the live-action flick would have looked a replica of the animated version.
11. Women empowerment is advocated strongly here
The song Speechless as well as Naomi Scott’s strong Princess proves that the executives at Disney are evolving with the passage of time. They show that Princess Jasmine is not afraid to stand for her father and for herself even in the face of danger, and other filmmakers must realize that until and unless they present women empowerment as a message for all, things will not change. Princess Jasmine prefers to stay home for her people and be Sultan than wed someone and move away. That’s why she chooses her own future with Aladdin rather than going away to some other kingdom as the wife of some Prince.