Disney has been recreating their classic animated films in a live action format for newer generations over the past few years. Perhaps the most controversial one by far, “Aladdin,” released a few weeks ago to a lukewarm critical and audience reception.
Being a big Disney fan, it’s safe to say I take Aladdin more seriously than I probably should. Although even I will admit, it seems as if the public was against this movie before anyone had a chance to see it.
Between the disappointment behind Jasmine’s revamped outfit, Will Smith being nightmarishly blue, or worse not blue at all, there was no way for this movie to win. People were upset on either extreme, which brings me to my reasoning why this movie could not work.
Live action Disney movies will always be viewed in comparison with original. There’s no opportunity to stand alone. Such as the case with Will Smith’s voice. The genie has several iconic lines and songs throughout the movie and while Smith’s take was good, it will never be the same as Robin Williams, and by extension, it will be perceived as worse.
It’s ultimately easier to fall into the magic when this kind of story is animated. Animation indicates that none of it is real, and almost contradictorily, the audience can believe it more.
Disney animated movies become more about how they make you feel. CGI and real people remove that magic, making my experience too believable. This movie feels less like escapism, which is a large reason consumers, including me, love Disney.
Setting that intangible point aside, something that more blatantly bothered me were the character interpretations. It goes without saying that Disney found an incredibly talented, qualified cast. To no fault of their own, these actors simply didn’t fit my perceptions of the characters.
I felt no chemistry between Aladdin and Jasmine. If I had to pick a favorite character, it would have to be the magic carpet. That carpet was given more personality than anyone else, despite being entirely rendered by CGI.
The character I had the biggest qualm with was Jafar. The studio sucked everything scary about his character by substituting the aged, hard won experience with a youth crazed for power, which I couldn’t take as seriously.
Rather than being worried for Aladdin about what Jafar is willing to do to him, I had to hold myself back from laughing at this man-child trying to threaten forces far more powerful than himself.
I do appreciate the studio’s efforts to somewhat modernize the story, yet it was to the extent of trying too hard. Everything was so over the top and overacted. Going back to my point before, that problem didn’t exist in the original animated film, despite it having the same grandeur.
There were also several additions to the story, stretching the scope beyond the original. I personally didn’t enjoy the extra songs they added. I’m not against the idea of adding more music to the live action remakes, I would just expect them to be on par with the original songs and they were not.
There were also several unnecessary side plots that took away from the recognizable richness. Strangely, the story was reordered. Sometimes this helped clear up plot holes plaguing YouTube theorists for years. Most of the time, this further muddled the story.
They key word among all my thoughts is unnecessary. I didn’t need this movie because the animated one was already so iconic. Though, my criticism, as usual, makes it seem like I didn’t enjoy my experience,. In reality, I had a great time.
In short, “Aladdin” is a beautiful, hopeful story, regardless of the medium it’s presented in. However, if you are a purist for the original story, I would only caution you not to expect the most faithful or well done adaptation.