Movie Review

Disney's live-action 'Aladdin' isn't half as magical as the original

Walt's factory has once more churned out a memory-ruining live-action remake of a wonderful animated feature

26 May 2019 - 00:00

Twenty-seven years ago Disney enchanted millions of young and older viewers alike with the release of its animated feature Aladdin. Perhaps the most memorable part of the enterprise was the genius voice casting of Robin Williams as the Genie. It was a chance for the late comic legend to give full rein to his manic, zany, comedic sensibilities.
Once-interesting, these days just about adequate director Guy Ritchie has stepped up to the plate. Together with Will Smith in blueface - and in keeping with Disney's recent penchant for deciding that, rather than create new animated content for a new generation, it's better to recreate its archive through live action - Ritchie and Disney successfully ruin the childhood of those who experienced the animated version at the time and try to get a new generation on board through CGI and lazy tweaks.
While there are plenty of begrudgingly acceptable live-action recreations of the original's animated extravaganzas and the expected singing of favourites such as A Whole New World, there's a certain inexplicable "whateverness" that fails to match the original material.

That's not helped by a cynical ploy by Disney to make the story more relevant by including a strong feminist subplot, complete with a jarring, out-of-place new song composed for the occasion, in which Princess Jasmine asserts her determination not to be silenced and to be allowed to rule in spite of gender restrictions.
Smith does his best to step into Williams's shoes in the role of the Genie but he's not as anarchic as his predecessor and it shows.
For all its mishmash cultural-appropriative spectacle, Aladdin ends up being a try-too-hard pale imitation that's too all over the place to provide a proper re-invention for a new generation.
Disney's time would be better spent remembering its origins as a factory for the realisation of magical innovation rather than simply a money-making enterprise...

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