Back in 1992, we still were children when we left the movie theatre with heart-eyes after watching Aladdin for the first time. Almost 30 years have passed (we feel old just writing it) and in this period we have seen the animated movie so many times that we know every scene by heart… and we are certain that we are not alone! Now Disney brings us back to Agrabah, this time with protagonists in the flesh: are Arabian nights still as magical as they once were?
We all know Aladdin’s story very well: a young thief comes into possession of a magic lamp and decides to use the power of the genius to win the heart of the sultan’s daughter, while the evil Jafar plots to take over the throne. In the live action, directed by Guy Ritchie, we find all the scenes and songs we loved in the animated version and something more: new characters, new musical moments that wink at Bollywood and a new Agrabah, now a busy city port.
To stand out among the protagonists is certainly Jasmine, played by a beautiful Naomi Scott. The princess has not lost the indomitable and independent spirit of the animated counterpart, but she is driven by new goals and desires: taking over the reins of her father’s kingdom, with or without a prince by her side. But all eyes are for the legendary Genius, here played by Will Smith, the protagonist of the most entertaining and spectacular scenes in the movie. We have to admit it: no one can outdo the “old” Genius with the voice of Robin Williams, but the new version is very funny as well (some scenes made us cry with laughter). Too bad we can’t say the same of the bad guys: the younger Jafar loses much of its evil charm, while poor Iago lacks all his sarcasm.
Let’s talk about songs. To our delight as children of the nineties, the new Aladdin kept all the original songs. The new arrangements do not make us regret the old soundtrack, but those who were already ready to sing along with the protagonists (like us) will have to deal with the slightly modified texts for dubbing needs (at least here in Italy). The only discordant note is perhaps the new song played by Jasmine, a pop tune that, while intense and meaningful, we believe is a bit too detached from the style of the others. If we want to make a comparison, the song of the Beast in the 2017 live-action remake was much more appropriate.
Ultimately, Aladdin suffers from flaws common to all live-action remakes, for which it is inevitable to lose the comparison with the original. Nevertheless, retracing the music and atmospheres of a film that we loved so much as children left us with a big smile on our faces. We will sing