So many people were wondering just how badly the live-action Aladdin movie was going to do that they were set in semi-cringe mode from the moment that it was announced that Will Smith was going to be playing the role of the genie. Looking at the reviews now however and what Steve Rose from The Guardian has to say it’s easy to agree with the idea that the idea of making a live-action version isn’t the worst idea in the world, especially since it’s more of the same with a judicious upgrade. In other words the movie is something that’s taken on a life of its own while mirroring the animated version that came out back in the 90s. Honestly there’s nothing wrong with the casting since this time around there are actual brown-skinned individuals rounding out the cast, not white-skinned individuals giving voice to them. You can say what you want about such a comment as it’s been made more than once by now, but in a film that’s set in the Middle East it’s definitely more realistic and a lot more appreciated considering that other folks with different skin colors were not such a prevalent part of this world for the duration of the movie.
Peter Debruge of Variety goes a little deeper by likening Will Smith’s genie to that of Robin Williams’ fast-talking, animated character that, thanks to world-class animators, was able to switch from one caricature to another in the blink of an eye by the standards of moviegoers. To be honest there’s no contending with Williams since he was a master of the off the cuff remarks and the quicker than light witticisms that seemed to be continually tossed off like sparks from a live wire, but Will Smith is no slouch when it comes to making quips and even better he’s got a dramatic side that helps to balance out the frantic energy that the genie was known to have in the film. In many ways he becomes Aladdin’s moral compass after the young street urchin begins to lose sight of what he was really after in the first place. So far in the movie it sounds as though Smith is bringing a lot more heart to the character than Williams was able to do back in the animated version, though let’s not go about saying who’s better and whose genie still needed some work. There’s no way to really say who was better since Robin Williams was great for the job back then and before his unfortunate passing had already become a comedic legend. Will Smith is a legendary figure as well but in a slightly different manner as he’s established that he’s not quite as quick and manic with his energy as Williams was, but relies heavily on his dramatic skills as well.
Graeme McMillain of The Hollywood Reporter has made it known that some critics didn’t really think Aladdin was all that great since the musical numbers seemed to be a bit underwhelming to them. But honestly my own personal take on critics is that when they say it’s bad then it might be something that people will like. When they rant and rave about a movie it might have a 50/50 chance of being something great. In this case though it almost feels as though the critics might be using the original as too much of a benchmark to measure the current movie by, which is not only unfair since Robin Williams was simply great in his own time, but it’s a negation of the attempt that has been made to bring back a Disney classic that a lot of people have loved for a long time. The changes that have been made haven’t been so great that they would upset the overall tone of the movie, but maybe some critics were expecting to see something that was a little more like the 90s version and less like its own entity.
It’s going to be up to the fans to really show what they think and say yea or nay when it comes to just how well Aladdin is received. Truthfully it does look like a fun family movie to go and see, though of course one has to take into account that some people who saw the animated version are going to be looking closely for certain moments that do or don’t mesh with what they expect. if that’s the case then some folks might be disappointed while others might leave the theater wondering just how it could have been better. The movie has kept largely to the animated version and what it presented to the audience, but after so many years it was bound to happen that a new version of the story would have to be updated in order to appeal to the fans of today.