So I saw the latest Live Action Disney Remake, and it was….. meh.
I know meh is such an overused way to refer to things, but I can’t think of a better way to express how I felt. The movie was fairly funny, and sometimes looked really good, but there was never a moment where I felt like it was something that needed to exist. It does nothing to expand upon the original.
The best of these live action originals expanded on the mythology of the originals, like Jungle Book and Cinderella. But this didn’t really do that. There were some new bits that made the movie a little longer, but overall, it was the exact same story, that hit the exact same beats. It added a nice little song for Jasmine, and it added a very forced romance for Genie that got no development, but that is all.
There were some things I liked, so I will get to those bits first. Will Smith was charming as the Genie. Was he Robin Williams? No, but it also didn’t feel like he was trying to be. He did his own thing while paying homage. He was still larger than life character, with a big bombastic personality, but it was unique enough to stand out from the original version. I also liked Jafar. The original Jafar was among my favorite Disney villains, and I thought Marwan Kenzari pulled off both the charm and the sinisterness of the character.
Sometimes, the production design looked great. Specifically, during Musical Numbers, they pulled out all the stops. But then in some other scenes, it looked kind of cheap. I specifically noticed it in Aladdin’s little hovel where the background and scenery all looked cheap. The Cave of Wonders was not all that wonderful looking either.
Another thing that bothered me is that some characters had accents, and others sounded American. I mean this was also the case in the cartoon, but one would think over 20 years later someone would have thought better to make the villains all have Arabic accents, but the two main love interests sound like American teens.
It did a few things to try and separate itself. Expanding on the motivations of Jasmine, who now wants to rule Agrabah herself, giving her journey a more female empowerment vibe, and also with Jafar a little bit, digging deeper into his jealousy and bitterness, but it all just isn’t enough. I see no reason why I couldn’t just watch the original as opposed to this one. They had a chance to mess with the story a bit and do something new, but they played it too safe.
It was not as bad as I first thought it would be after seeing the trailer, but it also isn’t good. I don’t regret seeing it, but I don’t think I need to ever watch it again.