In order for you to understand what I mean by the “Genie Actually” comment, let me talk about the original Aladdin (1992) movie first.
We all know today, that the original is a decent movie, that’s made “above-its-pay-grade” amazing by Robin Williams and him only. His stand-up comedy persona was perfect fit for the role of Genie, and he managed “to steal” this movie without going overboard and even though he’s the best thing about the movie, you still remember Aladdin, princess Jasmine, Jafar and others, because it’s not just about the Genie. And that is the most fascinating thing about the original film, even though we all love Genie, he’s not there THAT much, so we can focus on the main story with Aladdin and also see both of them bond and develop friendship throughout, where we can see Genie actually caring about Aladdin, whether he lives or dies, whether he gets Jasmine or not.
While watching this movie, I was entertained enough, Will Smith actually did a good job, but there was something I couldn’t get over, something I couldn’t put my finger on. And then it happened – the party scene, where Genie talks to Aladdin and says:
Oh, well, you gonna need to go back to the room, then. You’re not messing up my night.
That was the moment, where a tiny light bulb appeared above my head, turned itself on with a pretty cool sound effect and it all clicked (does this happen to anybody else btw, or should I see a doctor about that…?) – this isn’t Aladdin movie. Sure, it’s named Aladdin, and it pretends to be about him, but the main star is Will Smith. Ever since he appears on the screen, he doesn’t seem to go away, and makes himself focus of most of the scenes. And when your movie shifts focus like that, you kind of notice, as it halts everything else. Suddenly, I’ve noticed how because of the movie focusing more on him trying to steal the movie, we don’t really have the bonding experience like in the original movie, so when the “drowning” scene comes along, it almost feels unearned for Genie to save Aladdin.
Nobody will ever recreate that magic from the original movie, not because it’s something that genius, or because Robin Williams is sadly not with us anymore, but because they didn’t plan to have Genie “steal” the movie the way he had! Even though they recognised what they had with Robin’s unique performance, they didn’t go overboard with it, so as amazing as his portrayal of Genie was, he was still the supporting character. This movie feels split, as ever since Will-Genie comes into it, he overtakes the entire movie. And it becomes quite tiring after a while, as Will Smith is funny, but not “balls-to-the-walls” funny. Also, just noticed something else supporting my theory about him being the main star – go and look at the movie’s posters with multiple characters – whose head is the biggest on all of them? Who stands out the most? I know he’s the most “profitable” star in this movie, but still…
Other than that the movie improved on nothing, they gave princess Jasmine one song about empowerment (which I actually quite liked) but her character is almost identical to the one from the original movie. Naomi Scott tried her best though and I’m hopeful and excited to see her in more movies going forward.
One last thing – all due respect to Marwan Kenzari, (the new Jafar) but he wasn’t menacing at all – don’t know whether it was his choice, or maybe Guy Ritchie (yes, it’s directed by Guy Ritchie, I mean, why? How? What?) told him to tone it down, but he definitely seemed to be a “downgrade” from the original, as his animated counterpart was much more menacing.
Overall, Aladdin is a slightly better than average movie, bringing (almost) nothing new to the story and making over 1 billion worldwide at the box office. Wonder how long will this work for Disney with these live action remakes…
That’s all for this fancy-schmancy rendition of Aladdin! What did you think? Let me know!
Until next time,