Disney live-action remakes are the trend-cutters of the modern day. With an abundant number of them having graced our screens in the last near-decade, it would be no surprise to hear that Aladdin – the rags-to-wishes tale of a young street urchin (Mena Massoud) who vows to win the heart of his one true love, Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), by preventing evil vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) from becoming Sultan – would also be following suit.
It’s a daunting challenge for any director to adapt a heavily cemented animated classic for an audience who would no doubt – depending on their age – be faced with a wave of nostalgia upon watching the film. However, Guy Ritchie takes the fear factor out and delivers something which amalgamates the original storyline with subplots that are better suited to the progressive societal archetypes of today’s day and age.
It all begins where the former movie left off: a Genie (Will Smith) – now free – tells his two children about his once-upon-a-time adventures with Aladdin, before delving into the plot itself as and how we know it to be. Then come a few twists and turns when Princess Jasmine – whose character has evolved significantly since the 1992 version was released – develops from an individual of mild subservience to one who is gravely forthright (shown visibly through her harrowing performance of the picture’s new song, Speechless, where she makes a case that she will no longer be silenced by others). Her role has a politicised tone to it, encouraging Middle Eastern countries –where gender inequality means that women are still considered to be subservient to men – to take a leaf out of her book.
Visually impressive, particularly in the scene where Aladdin makes his grand marketplace entrance as Prince Ali, this feature enables the film’s production values to be upped a gear. Smith, who probably has one of the most difficult roles, stepping into the shoes of the late, great Robin Williams, delivers a commendable performance, paying homage to the much-loved star, but adding his own rendition to the iconic Genie too. Aladdin is a triumph: nostalgic, fresh and willingly loyal to the original.
Aladdin is released nationwide on 22nd May 2019.
Watch the trailer for Aladdin here: