It’s a fresh take on the classic tale
The latest in an ever-increasing line of Disney remakes, Aladdin takes a leaf (or should that be feather) out of Tim Burton’s Dumbo playbook, taking the beloved original animation – which first hit screens in 1992, nearly three decades ago – and updating it for today’s audiences.
The means grittier action (and more of it too), a souped-up role for
Jasmine, contemporary jokes that come thick and fast (and not just via Genie) and even two new songs. It’s the Aladdin we know and love, then, but with the dial turned up to 11.
Guy Ritchie being, well, Guy Ritchie
In charge of that dial is Hertfordshire-born Guy Ritchie. The director of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels might not seem like the most obvious choice for a family friendly Disney musical, but his hiring actually proves to be inspired.
Ritchie takes the beloved Middle Eastern caper and injects it with the steely realism, unconventional storytelling and flashy effects he’s known for, while at the same time never forgetting both his target audience and the beating heart at the centre of the film (that of Aladdin and Genie’s friendship).
Will Smith’s memorable turn as Genie
Stepping into the shoes of the late, great Robin Williams was never going to be easy, but if anyone was capable of filling Aladdin’s magical lamp it was actor/singer/comedian Will Smith.
The former Fresh Prince of Bel Air delivers a wildly entertaining turn as Genie, managing to both pay homage to Williams’ iconic performance, while also putting his own spin on Big Blue.
He even – in one of the remake’s many highlights – sings his own rap-inspired version of ‘Friend Like Me’.
The magical supporting cast
While Will can’t help but steal the spotlight (he is playing a 50ft-tall, blue-skinned genie, after all), the supporting cast are no less stellar.
Newcomer Mena Massoud is pitch-perfect in the title role, Naomi Scott plays Princess Jasmine as a feisty fireball, while Marwan Kenzari is suitably scary as villainous sorcerer Jafar.
Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen also shine in the entirely new roles of Dalia (Jasmine’s loyal handmaiden) and Prince Anders (a potential suitor for Jasmine). There’s also good news for fans of the original’s animal characters: Abu, Iago and Rajah all appear.
The songs (old and new)!
They say a musical is only as good as its soundtrack, and the original Aladdin’s colossal box office (504 million dollars which, if you take into account inflation, is absolutely astounding) is testament to just how memorable its songs are.
This time around, original composer Alan Menken has worked with La La Land and The Greatest Showman’s Oscar-winning songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul to compose the score, which includes reworkings of the classic ‘Friend Like Me’ and ‘A Whole New World’, plus two entirely new songs: a “beautiful” solo for Jasmine entitled ’Speechless’ and a duet for Jasmine and Aladdin.