I apologise if I’m completely hyper but I’ve been to the cinema and I’ve lost 2lbs!!
Spoilers from here on in… you have been warned.
Key issues going into this film (based on spoilers, theories and reviews I’ve seen online prior to seeing the film):
- Will Smith trying to be Robin Williams
- Jafar too nice
- Sultan is not the comical idiot of the cartoon
- Messing with the songs
- The genie’s story (human romance thing)
So here are my thoughts:
- Will Smith did a lot better than people expected and made it his own. (YAY! As a life-long Fresh Prince fan, I’m so relieved!!) The Arabian Nights song at the beginning was a bit too auto-tuned, it lost some of Will’s distinctive voice, but the rest of it was made his own with some rap/hip-hop moments. Also, his over-the-top/extrovert style worked so well with the genie showing off. He also does the girly imitation thing he does in his comic roles… the ‘slumber party style’ chatting about crushes and being with the singing girls in the Prince Ali song, like the animated genie did. So funny.
- Jafar being too nice: Not an issue. He’s definitely better looking than the animated one and is obviously limited to physical possibilities (so some animated slapstick moments can’t happen). I think his story is better in this than the 90s film. He shows that he was once a thief like Aladdin, he is implied in the queen’s death and the bit where he tricks Aladdin into the Cave of Wonders is sooooooooo much more believable. The end when he goes through his 3 wishes and becomes a genie, was amazing and so well executed by the CGI team. Well done Disney.
- The Sultan is not the fool of the cartoon and I’m glad! He is a strong and dignified leader, which impacts 3 major plot points. His meeting with Prince Ali shows he is still the true royal with experience, tact and wisdom (making Aladdin and the genie much funnier). He also fights Jafar’s control and protects his daughter all he can. The most amazing part of his performance is when he gives Jasmine the power to marry whoever she wishes…so touching.
- They didn’t exactly mess with the songs, they adjusted the arrangements slightly and let Will be Will. The Prince Ali and dance numbers are serious musical productions with dozens of extras…I like that! The new song “speechless” (sung by Jasmine) is a brilliant song; it will totally become a feel good, belt it out kind of tune (think Let It Go for grown-ups). It’s very in-line with the current pro-women thing Disney is focusing on and you can tell the awesome composers are the same that gave us The Greatest Showman and La La Land. I think that was also kind of the problem though; I LOVE The Greatest Showman, but Speechless is written in that modern musical style for someone to belt out on stage or have a stand-alone chart single with (and I’m sure they will) but when every other song hints at the Arabian culture, this just seemed to be a pop song on the wrong album. I really like it and Jasmine does an awesome job with it, but it was written 2 decades more recently than the original songs… and you can tell.
- When the genie is freed at the end, he turns human and starts dating! I love this as it always bothered me in the original that he stays blue and seems to still have magic…Will’s genie returns to his human disguise and stays that way. (As a side note, does anyone know if they kept Will looking bigger with SFX when he was human? (Like they did when he was blue) Or is the guy playing Aladdin really that much smaller than Mr Smith??) Some people didn’t like him having a real life, but I love the idea and think it emphasises his freedom.
Generally, one of the best Disney live-action remakes (so far). If you can possibly not compare Will to Robin Williams then you’ll enjoy it more. He brings his own spark to the performance, especially the end-credit remix. Disney clear up a few ‘grey areas’ and issues from the first film, adding back story (like they did in Beauty and the Beast) and kept all the key elements we love….speaking of which; the carpet, Abu and Rajah were spot on! I really LOVE that tiger.
I hope you get the chance to watch and enjoy it.
For a fuller analysis, try the Super Carlin Brothers review. (I should say it’s like 3/4 hour long…fair warning.)
Have a good one!