Aladdin Movie Review
4 out of 5
The trailer is out there…Everyone has seen it. And the verdict was swift and decisive…EVERYONE was a little bit freaked out by how Will Smith looked as the genie. Originally, the thought was “Can Will Smith step out of Robin William’s GIGANTIC shadow as the genie?” After seeing the trailer, people began to wonder if the film would bomb just due to the fact that everyone seemed so repulsed by the CGI work, and just how blue (and weird) Smith looked.
First, let’s tackle Will’s appearance throughout the movie. Yes. When he is blue — he looks strange. There’s just something off about the CGI. It’s as if his face doesn’t fit his head, or his head doesn’t fit his body. Or the head, body and face aren’t always in sync. It’s just…Off. There’s no other way to describe it. It is distracting in the first few scenes when Smith is onscreen this way, but it does eventually wear off as you settle into the movie — even if it never really gets better in the way it all looks. So there’s that.
Now, let’s move onto the bigger question — would Will Smith be able to step into the giant sized genie lamp Robin Williams left behind? The answer is two-fold. First — no. No one will ever be able to replicate Robin Williams. He was an original — and could pull so many things off so quickly — you often had to re-watch what he did just to process all of it. This was even more true when the elements of humanity had been erased, and he was allowed to be what he came very close to being in real life — a cartoon. When he was able to become whatever his mind could come up with — I imagine even the cartoon artists and animators had a hard time. So no…Will Smith did not pull that off. Even if this was a cartoon re-make of the original — he couldn’t have pulled that off. But again — no one else could have either. However, examining how he did in this film, and the way it was made — the answer changes. In this role, and the way this movie really necessitated him to be — he was what Will Smith always is. Entertaining. Funny. And perfect for the role — even if the CGI doesn’t always do him justice. In this film, the emotion needed to be more realistic. The situations called for a “calmed down” genie, if you will. And for my money — not too many people would have been able to do as good a job as Will Smith did.
So how was the movie then? I was pleasantly surprised. When it was announced that Disney would be doing “live action” remakes of some of their most warmly regarded films, many people (myself included) wondered if this was just a money grab. And perhaps it is. But that doesn’t mean the movies will be terrible — they are sourced from films that were well-loved after all. Early on, Aladdin pulls you in so effectively, that when the first couple of songs are belted out — they almost seem out of place — because the movie doesn’t feel like a musical. Just like the strange genie CGI though, that wears off, and the songs and performances that go with them are truly fantastic. Naomi Scott, who plays Jasmine, in particular is not only impressive in her acting — but her singing as well. The song “Speechless” is her shining moment. As Jafar (played by Marwan Kenzari) appears to be on the verge of complete victory, she breaks out of her forced relegation as just a pretty princess and belts out the song in what is one of the film’s most powerful moments.
If you’ve seen the original Aladdin, and enjoyed it — you will like this one as well, and it will open the eyes of a new generation of fans to the wonderful performance Robin Williams put in so many years ago. Last week it was John Wick who finally KO’d Avengers: Endgame as the box office champ. If people get over their frustrations from the strange CGI genie — Aladdin will reign this week — just long enough for the King of Monsters to take over next week.
Aladdin is playing now and is rated PG for some action and peril.