Warning: contains movie spoilers and unpopular opinions!
The people have spoken and chose whimsical familiarity over R-rated comedies & horror flicks. This Memorial Day Weekend, the Walt Disney Co. released it’s live-action remake of “Aladdin” and it dominated at the box office! Aladdin grossed an estimated $200 million while the teen comedy “Booksmart” and horror film “Brightburn” (also released that same weekend) didn’t even hit $10 million.
Per usual, Disney makes a profit as with every move! This year they acquired Fox, announced a streaming service and will open two new Star Wars themed lands inside Disney theme parks. The strategies to get moviegoers to drop cash, worked! But was this a good remake? First, let’s talk about the key differences in the live action and the original 1992 animated classic.
10 Changes made in Aladdin Live Action Remake vs. Original Animated Classic
With any announcement of a remake, I always have the same questions. What did they change in new Aladdin? What did they keep the same in Aladdin remake? We all wanna know if the new film added anything, or did it just repeat the movie frame-for-frame? Here are 10 key changes in the remake:
- Jasmine in the Marketplace. In one of the first scenes we encounter Jasmine wandering the marketplace without any explanation of who she is or why she is there. She offers bread to poor hungry children without any money to pay for it. Aladdin spots the shop keeper catching Jasmine and helps her escape by offering her expensive bracelet as payment then takes it back. The guards begin chasing both of them and this is where Aladdin sings his classic “One Jump Ahead”.In the original, Aladdin sings this song after guards catch him stealing bread. Aladdin helps Jasmine after she gives poor hungry children an apple without payment. Aladdin convinces the shop keeper that she is mentally ill and walks her away from the scene.
- Jasmine’s Mother. In the remake we have an explanation as to why Jasmine’s mother is not in the picture. She was assassinated and that is why Jasmine is always “locked up in the palace” for safety concerns. In the original Aladdin animated film, there is no deeper explanation as to why her mother is not in her life.
- A Smarter Sultan. In the original film, the Sultan is a silly dim witted character which explains why he would trust Jafar. In the remake, the Sultan is presented as wise which doesn’t explain why he wouldn’t see through Jafar’s character.
- Jasmine Becomes Sultan. *Spoiler Alert* Jasmine is named Sultan by her father at the end of the movie and choses to go out and marry Aladdin. This is a wonderful change which makes total sense because of the personality of Jasmine. She loves her kingdom and has opinions on how it should be ruled. She SHOULD be Sultan.
- Jasmines Female Empowerment Song. This is the best new musical song of 2019! This song is catchy, well written and promotes the total “girl power” mood we need. I personally nominate it for song of the year, especially with all the political controversy going on.
- Genie is the Story Teller. In this live action Aladdin remake, the opening scene is our beloved Genie, from the future. He is human (not blue), has a wife and two kids. He is sailing the world on a giant sailboat. He interacts with his kids and wife (they don’t show the wife face at the time, which feels super weird in these scenes). Then he sits the kids down and starts with “Let me tell you the story of Aladdin..”. It’s an odd transition without enough explanation as to why is telling the story.
- The Cave of Wonders. The original Cave of Wonders was only discovered because Jafar put two halves of the golden scarab beetle together. It flies away into the desert and the Cave of Wonders dramatically comes up from the sand. In the remake, the Cave of Wonders is a stone cave in the shape of the tiger head. It seems like anyone could just waltz up to it. The movie gives NO explanation as to how Jafar found out about the cave. And how he ends up at the head of the cave in the third scene.
- Getting Aladdin into the Cave. How does Aladdin end up in the cave? In the original, Jafar disguises himself as an old man who is also a prisoner. He needs a young man to brave the Cave of Wonders for him and Aladdin agrees. In this new Live-action remake, Jafar levels with Aladdin and tells him he used to be a street rat too. Jafar tells Aladdin his social status could improve if he enters the Cave and gets him the lamp.
- Wheres the Scarab? I miss the magical golden Scarab! I used to draw it on my notebook as a kid! Now the cave is just a place for anyone in Agrabah to prance over to? We also don’t get that super amazing horse chase, as we did in the animated original. What a wasted opportunity!
- Added Characters. There are so many new characters that get screen time in this live action remake Aladdin! Jasmine has a handmaiden named Dalia, there is a focus on the head guard named Hakim and a silly prince from Skaland.
New Characters in the Aladdin Live Action Remake
Let’s break down these new characters, there is a new handmaiden to the princess named Dalia (played by the hilarious and genius Nasim Pedrad). She adds a perfect level of light humor and we needed more of it in this movie!
The top guard for the Sultan is named Hakim and he has tons of scenes and lines. There is also a brand new Prince who comes to try to court Jasmine. He is a dumb prince name Anders from Skaland. He offers come comic relief, but feels totally unnecessary.
Original Characters from the animated Aladdin
First off, I need to put it out there that the animated Aladdin was my first crush. So the bar of expectation was pretty high for this remake. But Disney found the diamond in the rough with this one! Aladdin is played by the handsome and talented Mena Massoud. Wow. Nailed it! He was perfect for this role, he brought raw humbleness and some dope dance skills! Perfectly casted. We need to see more of him in Hollywood in the future.
Will Smith as the genie in Aladdin (2019). No one can deny that Will Smith is talented. He can act, sing, dance, and capture an audience. He can do anything! But did he pull off the Genie? What do we think everyone? Yay or Nay?
I was a “nay” until I saw the movie. I think it worked wonderfully. No one can replace Robin Williams in anything ever, but Will Smith did a fun job of capturing the essence of the Genie character. He did it, honored the role, and added a little bit of will smith-ness. It worked. Watch it for yourself from beginning to end, and then let me know how you feel.
I was disappointed that the new Sultan wasn’t silly and dim. I was also disappointed that Jafar wasn’t older and more evil. Jafar is a villain who looks like a melting corpse with make up on. I felt like the character looked a little bit…normal in the Aladdin live action remake. I needed a more villainous look to match the evil actions. I just didn’t believe it. Bottom line, I needed Jafar to be older and creepier. I also needed a cool Jafar villain song – as he had in the original! tisk tisk, what a shame!
Plot of the Aladdin Live Action Remake 2019
This was the most confusing opening to a movie ever. It opens to a future genie on a sailboat, but doesn’t show the mother character as she is speaking. Then it cuts to Aladdin in the marketplace, and then shows Jafar, it cuts between scenes without explanation. It also gives ZERO background story to any of the characters. You just don’t understand them enough.
If you didn’t see the original 1992 Aladdin, this movie would make almost no sense.
How did Jasmine escape the palace? What was she doing in the marketplace? How did Jafar know about the cave? How did he escape jail toward the end of the movie? Why didn’t genie save Aladdin when he was drowning? Why did Jasmine steal the lamp and ride the carpet around the marketplace but never rub the lamp and use the genie powers? If Jafar’s cobra staff has hypnotic powers, why didn’t he just hypnotize Jasmine into marrying him? There where so many plot holes. It felt like Disney chose thrill over logic.
The Animal Characters in Aladdin Live Action Remake
One of the most enduring parts of the original animated 1992 Aladdin, was the non human characters. Raja the tiger was fierce, naughty but cuddly and an excellent judge of character. Raja has a very small role and is devoid of personality. Iago was a hilarious and annoying parrot who never stopped talking, in the remake he’s just a regular old boring parrot.
Another character that lacked personality was the monkey, Abu! He was such a mischievous but lovable character – the facial expressions alone make you feel for him in the 1992 version. In this new 2019 Aladdin, he lacks detail. You don’t feel attached to his character as you used to. Definitely a failed attempt at the CGI remake of Abu. Although, one inhuman character that they did do well was the magical carpet! It was cute and showed emotion. You felt a little sad when it ripped in the end and then happy when the Genie restored it.
Family Friendliness of Aladdin
Overall this was a thrilling family film. There was no foul language or sexual content. It was culturally sensitive. There were two scenes where the genie is holding a martini glass with olives and drinking it. Overall, I would recommend this movie for the whole family. It was totally appropriate for all ages.
Redeeming qualities of Aladdin Live Action Remake
The music was beautifully done. The new song was perfect, the original songs were heart warming and familiar. I mean, who didn’t get goosebumps when “A Whole New World” started playing? (I dare you to go see it and not get warm fuzzy feelings during that scene.)
There was a Bollywood-esque type scene where Jasmine and Aladdin are dancing. WE NEEDED MORE OF THIS. This scene was pivotal. It showed off every positive element in this movie. The costuming was wonderful, the sets were epic, and the dancing was ON POINT. It made me wish that most of the movie was more of a Bollywood type musical. By the way, stay in the theater for the credits because there is another Bollywood dance with all the characters at the end.
The best and most impressive scene was the “Make way for Prince Ali” scene. It was (dare I say) better than the animated version. It felt epic and real. The colors, the way it film and the way the camera pans through the dancers, it was glorious!
Summing up the Aladdin Live Action Remake
I am so happy to go to the theater and give all my money to Disney movies and Disney remakes this year! I love how Disney does most everything impeccably. But this movie wasn’t edited well and it felt like the magical scenery + incredible costumes were forced set ups for song performances. We kind of stumble awkwardly in and out of scenes. The overall flow of the movie is choppy with significant plot holes.
The most magical costuming, nostalgic songs, and incredible scene sets are what redeem this movie for me. (And the perfectly casted Mena Moussand! A+ Disney!) It’s an alright movie to take your whole family to this summer. It’s visually stunning and appropriate for all ages.
I would love to know what you thought of this movie, especially after reading my review. Do you agree?