I was all set to hate the live-action adaptation of the Disney classic, so imagine my surprise when I found 2019’s Aladdin to be a highly enjoyable experience.
Director Guy Ritchie completely succeeds into transporting you into another world thanks to some truly exquisite set design and terrific attention to detail. Too often in movies today, the CGI is so immensely distracting that the illusion is shattered. Thankfully, the blend of CGI and practical effects in Aladdin is skillfully handled; you’re completely invested in the journey until the very end.
Naomi Scott is a revelation as Princess Jasmine. In fact, her character arc is updated to suit our modern times, and that’s a welcome move on the script’s part. She’s not a damsel in distress here, but a person with fully realized wants and goals. Naturally, Will Smith steals the film with his special brand of charisma. I actually thought he would be terrible judging by the trailers, but he’s exceptional. In fact, Smith is so magnetic in the role that I’m kind of hoping for a spinoff centered on his genie; he’s that memorable!
Sadly there are some weak links in the cast. Mena Massoud is just not impressive in the title role and is completely overshadowed by Scott. Moreover, Marwan Kenzari is completely miscast as Jafar. The villain terrified me as a kid but he’s just not menacing in the film (not to mention far too young). It’s a miracle really that the film still manages to be both endearing and entertaining despite the duo’s weak performances.
With its lavish sets, impressive visuals, and fantastic performances, Aladdin manages to effortlessly recreate the original’s spectacle and magic.