Live action 'Aladdin' is better than expected, less magical than animated version

ALADDIN (Photo: Disney)

3 out of 5 Stars
Guy Ritchie
Writer: John August, Guy Ritchie
Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott
Genre: Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG for some action/peril

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: Aladdin, a talented thief, falls for a princess believing her to be a court attendant. Unable to match the pedigree of the other suitors, Aladdin turns to a magical being to help him improve his social status.

Review: Going into “Aladdin” I was prepared for a complete debacle. I like Guy Ritchie films, but I’m not quite sure what it was that made Disney hire him for this film (probably his work on the Sherlock Holmes franchise). Having watch the film, I’m still not convinced that he was the man for the job. That said, the film isn’t remotely as painful as the initial set photos and trailer suggested.

With a running time that is just over two hours, “Aladdin” could have used a tighter edit, particularly when it comes to some of the montage sequences. Will Smith is all in for his performance as the Genie and while he doesn’t match Robin William’s enthusiasm, he’s better than I expected. Naomi Scott and Nasim Pedrad offer the strongest performances as Jasmine and Dalia. Marwan Kenzari’s Jafar is perfectly solid and decided;y different from the animated film. Mena Massoud’s performance as Aladdin is fine, but tends to get lost behind Smith and Scott. Costume design is great, special effects are pretty good.

There are a few narrative changes from the animated film. Most revolve around Jasmin’s desire to take over her father’s role and become the first female Sultan. Some may bristle at the changes, I didn’t have any issue with them. The songs feel a little flat when compared to the original performances. The new song, “Speechless,” is an anthem that would love to be confused with “Let It Go,” but doesn’t measure up.

“Aladdin” is a good movie, but it’s ultimately less magical in almost every way when compared to the animated film. If you’re a fan of the Disney live-action remakes you’ll probably enjoy it. If you’ve grown tired of the studio’s shift away from original material, there’s nothing here that is going to change your opinion.

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