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THE CAVE OF WONDERS — Disney has been on the live-action remake money train as of late and it doesn't have plans to stop anytime soon.
The remake of the beloved 1992 classic met its fair share of road bumps on its way into the theater. There was some controversy and a lot of eye rolls and guffaws when we got our first look at Will Smith’s Genie, but none of that matters anymore.
“Aladdin” is now in theaters and not only is it going to make its own forbidden treasure at the box office, but it’s also a lot of fun. I’d be willing to say it's one of Disney’s better live-action remakes.
Here are a few ways “Aladdin” answers our wish for an entertaining movie and a couple of reasons this Genie should have stayed in the lamp.
Where the magic happens
Will Smith is an adequate Genie
Will Smith had the hardest job on this film considering he was steeping into Robin Williams’ iconic shoes.
Williams’ Genie from the 1992 original is one of animation’s most beloved characters and for good reason. Williams’ unique sense of humor and insane levels of energy made for absolute joy. The Genie was hilarious, heartwarming and one-of-a-kind.
How do you live up to that? Smith does a pretty good job of measuring up to the task.
Smith had this very small area to play in and he did it brilliantly. The veteran actor managed to pay homage to Williams’ incredible performance while also making the character his own.
There is a flair and swagger to the Genie we haven’t seen before, but he’s still funny, supportive and vulnerable. Smith will make you laugh and you’ll wish you had a friend like him.
There are wonderful moments where you can tell Smith is nodding to Williams and his brand of humor, specifically in the musical numbers of “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali.” You can see Williams’ fingerprints all over the fantastical musical numbers, which is really special, but then we also get Smith’s flair and personal brand of humor in there as well.
It’s hard to understand without seeing it for yourself, but take my word for it that Smith is the highlight of this film much like Williams was in the original.
I'm not contending that Smith is a better Genie than Williams. But I am saying Smith turned in a memorable performance and was not trying to outdo Williams, but rather build upon his work.
The scenery is dazzling
I am a big fan of most of director Guy Ritchie’s work. I think “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” is criminally underrated and his “Sherlock Holmes” films are an absolute blast. He has an uncommon eye and I love seeing that plastered all over his films.
One of his trademarks seems to be dark and muted tones, such as the ones in “Sherlock Holmes” or his more recent “King Arthur.” He had spots of color in “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” but that film even had a lot of dark tones.
“Aladdin” is a bit of a left turn for Ritchie, but he knows how to execute a fine left turn.
This film is heavy with computer-generated imagery, but the color palette and costumes are gorgeous. The bright, vibrant scenery sucks you into the world of Agrabah and makes the moments when things do get dark even more sinister.
Ritchie’s use of colors and lighting really sets the tone for the film and created a strong and palpable sense of good versus evil.
It's a fun experience
There’s a reason we all love the 1992 “Aladdin.” It is so much fun. You’re laughing one minute, then trying to catch your breath the next, and then laughing once again.
It’s one of the best comedic adventure films and that’s all I was really hoping for with this new “Aladdin.” I just wanted to have a good time at the theater and I got it.
There are a few moments that seem to drag just a little, but for the most part, the pacing is tight, the motivations are strong, the comedy is intact and the adventure is exciting.
For the most part, the big plot points are the same as the original, but there are definitely a few surprises. I am excited for my daughters to see this new Jasmine, who is a strong female who knows how to work with a team and take control of a situation without waiting around to be rescued.
What's stuck in the lamp
Jafar is weak
Jafar is one of Disney’s all-time best villains. He’s terrifying and Jonathan Freeman did some of my favorite voice work with the character in the original.
I’m not trying to say Marwan Kenzari was bad as Jafar in this remake or even that he's a bad actor. He does a fine job, but I just didn’t feel the threat in his portrayal like I did in the animated version.
I was a child when I first experienced the terror of Jafar and I am now a man in my mid-30s, but I felt like the character could have been stronger and more menacing.
The CGI is inconsistent
This is tough because there are times the computer graphics are absolutely brilliant and seamless in this film. Then there are other times where it just looks awkward and takes us out of the moment.
I know CGI is tough, but with this kind of budget and the number of eyes that will be on this movie, I feel they could have spent some more time getting right in certain areas.
The 1992 version of “Aladdin” is still the sultan, but this new version makes for a pretty likable prince.
If you come in looking to have some laughs and some fun, I don’t think you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re coming in so your kids will have a good time, then I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
"Aladdin" is rated PG for some action/peril.