‘Aladdin’ fun, but pales to animated original

Sean I. Mills
Staff writer
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Posted 6/2/19

The new live action “Aladdin” film cannot hold a candle to the original animated version, but it’s still a fun enough film on its own. The second of three live action Disney remakes this year, …

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‘Aladdin’ fun, but pales to animated original

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The new live action “Aladdin” film cannot hold a candle to the original animated version, but it’s still a fun enough film on its own.

The second of three live action Disney remakes this year, “Aladdin” simply cannot compete with the freedom and imagination that comes from animation. Everything in the new version is just a bit less fantastical.

And considering how closely the new film follows the plot, dialogue and story beats of the animated version, it’s impossible to separate the two for critique. This is simply Disney’s original “Aladdin” cartoon redone with human actors and a couple of little changes here and there.

The story remains the same: street rat Aladdin finds a magic lamp and the all-magical genie grants him three wishes. Aladdin wants to be a prince so that he can marry Princess Jasmine, but she liked him just the way he was. Also there’s a really nasty bad guy who wants the genie for himself.

If you enjoyed the original cartoon “Aladdin”, there’s a very good chance you’ll enjoy this new live action version as well. It’s essentially the same movie. The songs are just as memorable, the action and comedy are just as enjoyable, and the overall story is just as fun.

The film is literal wish fulfillment, watching a young, heroic Aladdin trying to fulfill his life’s greatest wishes with magic.

There’s not much to the film that necessarily warrants rushing out to see it in theaters. It’s not bigger, it’s not more magical, and the live action doesn’t add anything that’s a must-see. But children will probably enjoy it just as much as they would enjoy the original cartoon.

The actors all do a fine job in their roles. Much consternation was expressed over Will Smith replacing the late Robin Williams as Genie, but the Fresh Prince lays those concerns to rest with a hugely enjoyable performance. There are still shades of Williams in the character, but Will Smith makes Genie his own, especially when he’s allowed to.

Actor Naomi Scott stands out as Jasmine, who gets the lion’s share of the changes for the live action switch. Jasmine is given more to do in the story this time around, and the only new song goes to her. It’s a really good song.

The new live action “Aladdin” does not offer anything new or overly exciting to justify its existence as a Disney money-maker. But if this is what Disney wants to spend its money on, they made a pretty fun film that easily recaptures the charms of the original.

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