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Aladdin (2019 Live Action)

by Michael  Cox
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Sep 10, 2019
Aladdin (2019 Live Action)

What is it with Disney and these new live-action releases of their animated classics? Some say it's merely an attempt to hold onto their copyrights. In the case of "Aladdin," a film that is so essentially animated and so quintessentially linked to its now-diseased star Robin Williams, the idea of an remake seems absurd.

The only way to enjoy the live action remake of "Aladdin" is to let go of its predecessor and embrace it for what it is, a thrilling Guy Ritchie action film. From this perspective, there's a lot to enjoy in this less cute, less campy, more ballsy and more playfully plotted adaptation.

When it was first envisioned, "Aladdin" was intended to be a showy 1930s style musical with a Harlem Jazz type celebrity as its Genie — the very antithesis of everything in Ritchie's oeuvre. Remember, at around the time the animated "Aladdin" came out Ritchie was bashing his character's heads in with car doors and beating them with big purple dildos.

Still at its heart "Aladdin" mirrors the themes in some of Ritchie's best work. It's the story of a poor, desperate thief (Mena Massoud), who is seduced briefly by money and power and who comes out on top when he decides to be generous and have integrity. And the fast-paced action and variable frame rate sequences serve the story well. The plot is sped up and tightened, and the framing device in this film is much better then in the original.

And there are elements of the first script that should never have been held on to. The CGI pets fall flat compared to the anthropomorphic animals in the animated version. And Ritchie has no capacity for either the sentimental or campy moments held over from the original.

There are some exciting politically corrected and updated plot points in this version, including the fact that the story is essentially about a woman's rise to power (Naomi Scott) and how the male protagonist happily supports her in this. Also the script questions authority in general, suggesting that people not follow leadership out of blind loyalty. And although it isn't overt, these themes seem almost perfectly drawn from our current political climate.

Will Smith as The Genie cannot possibly compare to Robin Williams. It's hopeless to try. And when he does this film suffers. Though the character of The Genie was certainly conceived for a black man. Smith is not the type of personality The Genie was intended to be. Nevertheless when Smith is simply himself the film works fine and the story is charming, human and heartfelt.

This multi-screen edition of "Aladdin" includes bloopers, deleted scenes, a deleted song and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Blu-ray Combo Pack $39.98