Jim's Alladin Review: A Drole New World?

I love the original 1992 animated version of Disney’s Aladdin. But I purposely didn’t watch it before seeing the new live action version of Aladdin, because I wanted the new movie to stand on its own. It doesn’t seem fair to try to compare the two. But I will a little.

As for casting the new movie, the actors certainly look the part. But the beginning of this movie, in which technology can show us incredible things, disappoints in a few ways. Non-CGI effects look poor by comparison. Handheld props look fake. There’s even a scene in the Guy Richie directed film, where Aladdin and a disguised Princess Jasmine, are trying to escape as thieves through the city. I don’t know if we were meant to notice the effect. They obviously filmed some of the action at a slower speed, and then sped it up to 100%. It’s a strange notable affect. And it takes us completely out of the moment.

For at least the first third of the movie, the acting is reminiscent of the stage musicals done live on network television like Peter Pan or Carrie underwood in the Sound of Music. If I were more harsh, I'd say it's a big budget "made for Disney Channel movie".

But let’s be honest, of all the things we love about the movie Aladdin is the Alan Menken soundtrack. The songs are iconic (I Can Show You The World, Friend Like Me, etc). In the live action Aladdin, with the exception of Princess Jasmine {Naomi Scott), the singing is flat. Will Smith is a rapper, not a stage musical performer. It's not his style. His and Mena Massoud's (Alladin) singing never quite hits the right musical note until the end of certain phrases, where the music swells and layering along with special effects come in to save them. And as I said, Naomi Scott has a voice that is spot-on and made for a soundtrack like this.

The big question going in was, "Can Will Smith's version of Genie be as captivating and wonderful as Robin William's interpretation in the cartoon"? I’ll say it took some getting used to. But I really respect Will Smith bringing his own take, instead of riffing on Robin Williams potrayal. Will smith as the genie is eminently likable, as he is in almost everything. I bought in about half way throughthe film. When he smiles, the audience smiles.

I, like the rest of the audience in the theater, left the movie smiling. But I wasn’t ecstatic. This movie had the potential to be a sensation, but never quite gets there. It’s like the flat notes, that were almost the right ones. It never quite lives up to its potential.

7.5 out of 10.