When Guy Ritchie was put on the helm of the new live action adaptation of the cult cartoon classic Aladdin, there was a lot of hope, as he is someone with a different cinematic vision than most who have tried and failed to revive the old Disney wines in new bottles. At least that’s what the fans of his film-making thought, after hits like Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Arthur, which is also an adaptation of an age old tale from Camelot.
The casting for the movie also built up expectations as the teasers revealed Will Smith in the role of the mad blue genie, granter of wishes & rider of flying carpets – even though the last animated version of this movie featured the voice of the legendary Robin Williams which meant that it was not going to be very easy to fill those shoes.
So I strode into the cinema with kiddies in tow, heart all set for the magic of Disney to envelope us once again into that warm cocoon of familiarity as one generation passed on the torch of their childhood to the next… And well, I wasn’t as thrilled.
Firstly… Aladdin is supposed to be a pretty safe children’s movie. When I say safe, I mean free from over the top thrills and near death falls that can wreak havoc with a little ones mind. That’s not the case here as in their attempt to transform the comedy and theatrics of the animated version, the film has turned into an actual roller coaster right from the first scene. I would totally compare it to one of those first person shooter experiences you and I like to stall kids from, on Playstation 4. There are also some severe triggers embedded in the flick as there are reference to dead parents & the characters throw insults at one another as well.
Secondly, yes we know Aladdin and Jasmine are about the classic romance between a street urchin and a princess but its also a kids movie so keeping it PG-13 like the animated version would have been preferred. Also, the genie falling for the princesses handmaiden as well.. when did that happen?
Thirdly, live action adaptations often trade in frame by frame painstakingly drawn animation with computer generated CGI – but there is a way to do it so it does not seem over the top. Aladdin is leaning more towards completely mind jarring CGI which takes away from the charm and novelty of the story rather than adding to it. This was more in the Transformers category to be honest.
The lesson throughout the movie though is to BE YOURSELF and not be over awed by power and wealth – which is pretty decent for kids but it wasn’t too well portrayed with distractions from several changes in the first place. In a nutshell, we would prefer a movie worthy of passing on the torch of childhood fantasies on to the next generation.
This was a 4/10 for me and of those points is for Will Smith’s portrayal of the genie (even though it was slightly different – he was great!