Aladdin, one of the most beloved of the classic Disney movies, has been added to the list of movie animation adapted into live-action. Although there was a lot of excitement there was also a lot of doubt as well, especially when we got a glimpse of CG blue Will Smith. I was part of the doubt but for many different reasons. There’s a certain whimsical and overly dramatic charisma to animation and when you translate that into live action you lose that certain charm. So does this translation work for Aladdin?
Starting from the plot, there isn’t a whole lot to say. With some very minor changes, there isn’t really anything different. There is a change concerning certain characters, that being Jasmine and Genie. Both affect the plot differently but only one really does it for the better. Without any spoilers, it boils down to this: Genie has a subplot that gives him a reason to want to be human other than just having the freedom and it is used throughout the story. As for Jasmine’s it is very glaring. It doesn’t really add to the narrative, instead, it hits you over the head with the exact same point that is defined throughout the story. Jasmine is a strong woman who wants to lead her people.
We can easily see this in her story arc as she tries to get involved with Agrabah’s politics without needing to get married. It’s very evident that she loves the people of Agrabah and wants to make life better for them. The extra subplot was unnecessary as was her song which will be talked about later in this article. The most frustrating thing was that it was tedious to watch the subplot play out and if you removed it entirely absolutely nothing would change in the story but if you tried to take out Genie’s subplot there would be a lot in the script that would need to be changed. If it isn’t necessary to the plot or it doesn’t call for a rewrite of the script once removed, then it doesn’t belong in the movie. Overall the plot doesn’t really change and is a nearly shot for shot adaptation of the movie.
As for the song let’s talk about the musical score. There is a theme to it, and it fits incredibly well with the environment and creates the atmosphere. The music, even the well-known songs of the film, are remixed to have a middle eastern/Bollywood theme to it. This goes for the choreography as well. The cultural representation of the movie from both costuming and the music sets the atmosphere perfect for the location, but within the score, there is one song that breaks this theme and ruins the atmosphere. Jasmine’s solo song “Speechless”.
“Speechless” was composed by the song writers of La La Land and it shows, not in a positive way. All the other musical scenes have their Bollywood melody making them fun and exciting. The problem with “Speechless” lies in its generic sound. “Speechless” sounds like a pop song you would hear on the radio and it would be easy to tune out as white noise because it sounds like every other generic pop song. It was boring to listen to and had no cultural flavor to it that songs like “Arabian Nights” had. It stood out like a sore thumb and felt very forced. Aside from that one song, the score of Aladdin was exciting, fun, and had audience members wanting more.
In the case of animation, the music made it all the better. Although the CG isn’t the best it gets the job done, that isn’t a good thing to say. Although your eyes adjust to seeing a blue Will Smith, it can stand out a lot. The animation shouldn’t just be good enough; it should wow audiences and be the highest quality the animators can put out there. Just enough can get the job done, but if you want to impress the audience, especially with such a high budget movie, good enough shouldn’t be enough. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t entertaining to watch. It worked out well for the Genie helped Will Smith capture the whimsical and fun nature of the Genie, which is what audiences really wanted to see. It wasn’t a disappointment, but it could have been better.
As for the Genie, Will Smith was wonderful and it isn’t a stretch to say he did the late Robin Williams proudly. He was fun, comical, and even though he isn’t Robin Williams, his portrayal had the same spirit and was really a saving grace for the movie. His performance wasn’t the only outstanding one. Naomi Scott as Jasmine captured Jasmine’s independence. She was another saving grace, unlike the other live action Princesses, Naomi can actually sing. Autotune was incredibly obvious with actors like Emma Watson. It made the songs hard to listen to. Naomi’s performance went above and beyond in bringing to life songs like “A Whole New World”.
There isn’t much to say for the other actors though. They were rather bland and felt like they were trying to hard to copy the emotions of the animated characters. The biggest disappointment was Jafar. It was like Marwan Kenzari wasn’t even trying. He was very monotone and far too serious. Jafar is a serious villain but he was also very expressive with his emotion. He was clever and very witty, Marwan sounded very emotionless in his acting. He had one of the best Disney villains to work with and his portrayal failed to bring him to life. If you’re looking forward to seeing Jafar act like the vocal and overdramatic villain you knew from the animation, you’re going to be disappointed and the same can be said for Iago. He was just a CG parrot that spoke a clever line or two. There is hardly a relationship between the two. As for the other side characters, they’re quite forgettable in their performances.
Looking at the movie do the pros outweigh the cons? Does Aladdin translate well from animation to live action? And is it a good movie? The pros and cons seem fairly even, but the movie doesn’t translate well. Like all animation to live action, it loses the charm and expression animation has, making the movie feel much duller than its animation counterpart. The same can be said for the acting. Smith and Scott are left holding the movie together and making it less boring than it would be without them. This movie isn’t boring to watch, but there are elements that could have been better. Among the other live-action remakes, Aladdin does stand out as the best one so far. That isn’t really saying much, but it is definitely a movie to recommend if you want to see how it turned out.