Aladdin remake delivers mixed feelings


Photo via Forbes

Early on in the summer, I drove down to Parkway Plaza with my sister to watch the new live-action adaptation of Disney’s Aladdin. The movie was only being offered in “3D IMAX,” and after watching it, I can safely say I have mixed feelings.

The performances of the iconic songs in Aladdin’s original soundtrack were mediocre at best, and a bit upsetting to listen to at worst

The new rendition of “Arabian Nights” at the beginning of the film did have a certain power behind its vocals, which really drew me in as a viewer, and of course the lyrics were cleaned up a bit after our society (Hollywood included) has become more socially conscious and considerate. The romantic ballad, “A Whole New World,” however, left much to be desired as the instrumental was completely watered down into a bland, vanilla pop melody that made me desperately miss the soaring-power-ballad-feeling of the original.

The visuals during the reprise of “Speechless” left me somewhat confused. It made absolutely no sense as to why she was vaporizing the guards around her as she sang her heart out, giving me some flashbacks to Infinity War, which ended up taking me out of the viewing experience for a brief moment.

The casting was sensible for the most part, although two in particular stood out for me for very different reasons: Marwan Kenzari as Jafar and Will Smith as the Genie.

To put it bluntly, Kenzari was a pitiful excuse for the intimidating Jafar that I remembered from my childhood. Most of his “terrifying and intimidating” lines fell flat, holding no malice or power behind them, his appearance in and of itself was much too gentle and non-threatening to encapsulate Jafar’s bone-chilling presence, and his bouts of evil laughter were more amusing and hilarious to me than anything else.

The strange choice by the design team to plaster Will Smith’s face onto the Genie’s body did look concerning in the original trailer, which made me all the more thankful when they toned down the “blue Smurf” skin tone and gave Smith a few opportunities in the movie as the Genie without any CGI’d blue skin.

Although not severely affecting the plot of the movie, I can now appreciate the measures the writing staff took to make the movie more “politically correct.” While I’m usually not one for rampant political correctness in media, the aspects that were changed in the new rendition were perfect.

Some of the lyrics in the songs and depictions of Arabian people were changed, for example, primarily because they enforced the harmful stereotype of Arabian culture being filled with violence and hostility towards outsiders or those who are different.

I will applaud the writers for adding their own unique elements to the adaptation, which I firmly believe is the key to any decent remake of an existing piece of media. Jasmine’s role as a woman with urgency and a ruler who is much more involved in her kingdom’s affairs was a nice touch, and although some might argue that it changes the original plot and is merely pandering (which is somewhat debatable), it made much more sense story-wise for her to become the next Sultan by the end of the movie.

I left the theater not particularly regretting spending two hours and nine minutes watching a live-action Disney movie that originally wasn’t very promising, but it did leave me with an uncomfortable amount of mixed feelings which may never resolve.

If nothing else, this movie was undeniably unforgettable.