May 24-2019
Review: ‘Aladdin’ tries hard to recreate the charm and magic of the animated original

Disney is on a live-action remake spree and the latest entry into that space is Aladdin. Directed and co-written by Guy Ritchie this live-action musical fantasy adventure is based on Disney’s 1992 animated movie. 

Oh, imagine a land, it’s a faraway place
Where the caravan camels roam
Where you wander among every culture and tongue
It’s chaotic, but hey, it’s home

The movie begins with these lines and takes us on a ride to the magnificent city of Agrabah! For those who have been a fan of 1992 animated Aladdin, digesting a live-action version of the same was bit difficult at first. The tale is a known one, which follows Aladdin (Mena Massoud), a poor street urchin who stays in his humble mansion and makes his living by stealing food from the marketplace in the city of Agrabah.

His life changing adventures begin when he retrieves a magical lamp from the Cave of Wonders, and has a Genie (Will Smith) fulfill any three wishes he has. His wishes eventually take a certain course as he’s smitten by Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) who vehemently refuses to “go speechless”. But, Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), the sinister advisor to the Sultan (Navid Negahban) has his own plans for them.

The film makes a number of changes that are both refreshing and nostalgic, bringing out the aura of original Disney movie. Smith (Genie) in his evergreen (ever-blue here) charm, manages to glue the audience to their seats. The scenes between Smith and Massoud give a good touch of affection to their friendship. Massoud’s effortless layman role, trying to find a stroke of luck is earnest.

Abu (the monkey) plays a vital role in bringing together Jasmine and Aladdin and can be rightly said the star of the film. With amazing CGI and glamorously done VFX, the movie though not at par with the animated version has managed to revive the magic. What captured attention were the details in every sequence.  The VFX are created by: Industrial Light & Magic (VFX Supervisors: Mike Mulholland, Daniele Bigi and David Seager), Hybride (VFX Supervisors: Joseph Kasparian & François Lambert), One of Us (VFX Supervisor: Tyson Donnelly), DNEG Stereo Nvizage Proof (Previz Supervisor: Matt Perrin) with production VFX supervisor Chas Jarrett.

The live-action remake of the iconic song, The World of Dreams has done justice to the original one. The background landscapes created with the help of VFX and animation oozes out nothing but magic.

It doesn’t need to mention that Aladdin is far from being perfect critically. And on the whole the remake seems a little redundant. But what stands out in this Disney live-action remake is its treatment. A story that’s so well known and has been a classic in the animation history, deserves to be at par with its original. The film brings back the musical charm of the Disney tales. The trailer seemed a little cheesy and average, but surprisingly the film is executed brilliantly with all its vibrance and happiness spread all along.

But the direction fall short to match with the ambition and spirit of the original. The comparisons are not justified given two different forms of filmmaking, but inevitable, given our childhood has been attached to it. Smith is great with his timing, attitude, quirk and coolness but the latter appears a little forced and superficial at times. Somewhere, we try to look for the unmatchable charm and comic timing of Robin Williams that made the creation immortal.

Massoud is a revelation for me personally, because honestly I had least expectations from him. But he is effortless as the titular character and makes Aladdin his own. Scott is decent but stiff in few frames though her not giving up hope and refusing to ‘lose her voice’ scene makes a mark. Abu and Iago are both adorable and impossible.

The tale of Aladdin holds a special place in our hearts. It also warns us not to be tempted by the mirage of wishes and give in to its trap; as

“That’s the thing about wishes
The more you have, the more you want”

(The review is jointly written by Sharmindrila Paul and Yugandhara Shete)