Aladdin (2019)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5

USA, 2019, , , .  Screenplay by , Guy Ritchie, based on the film story by , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Screenplay by , , , .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

Disney’s success with rendering their animated classics as live-action films hit a hamster wheel of productivity in 2019 that resulted in their releasing Dumbo and The Lion King reboots along with this overblown reinvention of their 1992 hit. As was the case with the Beauty and the Beast rehash, the human version has all the grandeur of the original but none of its charm or whimsy, telling the story of the crafty and clever “street rat” of the title with such heavy sincerity that director Guy Ritchie may possibly have thought that he was remaking Pixote.

Aladdin (an unremarkable ) dreams of being more than just a scrabbler surviving the streets of Agrabah, and gets his chance to rise above his station when the Grand Vizier of the imperial palace (played with some intensely feline evil by ) throws him into a cursed cave to fetch a magic lamp that he desires.  Aladdin ends up rubbing the lamp himself, unleashing a giant blue genie (, who never matches up to Robin Williams’ portrayal and, because he’s wise enough not to try, never offends either) who tells him that he is allowed to make three wishes. What Aladdin wants is to be with the beautiful Princess Jasmine (), so he asks the genie to turn him into a prince, but doing so causes his magical friend a great deal of worry when Aladdin seems to want to live within this false identity and leave behind the diamond in the rough that everyone loved so dearly.

The changes to the animated film’s plot are labored and awkward, the musical numbers don’t feel organic to the experience and the most fantastical elements of the tale are lengthy and dark sequences that are more Kagemusha than The Thief of Bagdad.  The addition of Princess Jasmine’s career ambition (she wants to be the sultan in this version), is about as disingenuous a stab at modern-day feminism as is featured in most recent Disney films whose protagonist is male (give her what she wants so that you don’t actually have to pay her much attention).  Scott gives a performance that is always being delivered from the stage of a Miss America pageant, but steals every moment away from her as her hilarious lady in waiting.

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