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- for some action/peril.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Nasim Pedrad
Running Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: May 24, 2019


Plot Summary

A kind-hearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true. (from IMDb)

Film Review

The Disney live action remakes continue with the latest treatment, 1992’s Aladdin. On paper, this story does feel perfect for a live action take, but it still makes you wonder... do we really need it, though? At what point does it just seem like another unimaginative, easy cash grab?

Stylistic director Guy Ritchie, who is probably most known for his Robert Downey, Jr.-helmed Sherlock Holmes films, takes the reins on this one, bringing a lot of his signature flair to this rags to riches tale. He utilizes mostly unknown and little-known actors, too, largely using ethnic actors to bring more authenticity to the world he builds. Replacing the late Robin Williams as the film’s fast-talking blue genie with a heart of gold is also no easy task, but he rolls the dice with the versatile and charming Will Smith, and it mostly pays off, too. Smith steals the show throughout the film, easily making it worth the price of admission. Is he better than Williams’ iconic character? Probably not, as that's a pretty big lamp to fill, but Smith does elevate Aladdin higher than it probably otherwise should be.

Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott are both good in their respective roles as Aladdin and Jasmine—as those definitely seem like tough roles to fill as well. I wasn't feeling their casting at all when I first saw the trailers for this film, but they both proved to excel in their respective roles. The only real poor casting comes in the form of Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, unfortunately. While he gives it his best shot, he’s really too shrimpy and vanilla to even begin to match the animated character. The cartoon Jafar was big, creepy and sinister. This one just squeaks through and never seems to match our expectations for the character. While going TOO big for the villain would have certainly been easy to do, too, finding the right mid ground is important—and I just don’t feel like they achieved that here. Aspects of the film feel like a lower budget outing, while others match the extravaganza you’d expect form Disney and Aladdin. In the end though, the movie works more than it doesn’t, and this live action Aladdin manages to sweep us away on that promised carpet ride.

The content for the film is in line with what one would expect from a PG-rated Disney film. There is no profanity, and the only sexual content is a gag where the genie wears a dress and another where he tells Aladdin he needs to be specific with his wishes before he can “make him a prince” and then has a male prince appear for him (like he made a prince FOR him). The only other content to be careful of is the magic elements and the related action scenes. Jafar making himself big and menacing at the end, along with some of the things he does to threaten the film's heroes, will likely frighten children, so that’s definitely something to keep in mind.

While it’s debatable if we ever needed a live action version of the animated classic Aladdin, there’s enough they did right with this new version to make it worth your time if you're a fan. It’s hardly one of the best movies of the year, but it’s also a highly entertaining and enjoyable fantasy tale.

- John DiBiase (reviewed: 7/7/19)



Parental Guide: Content Summary

. Sex/Nudity: The only sexual content is a gag where the genie wears a dress and another where he tells Aladdin he needs to be specific with his wishes before he can “make him a prince” and then has a male prince appear for him (like he made a prince FOR him)
. Vulgarity/Language: None (although according to comments on IMDb, it contains a few mild Arabian curse words).
. Alcohol/Drugs: We see the genie with a martini in his hand a few times.
. Blood/Gore: None.
. Violence: Some mild spoilers ahead: The Cave of Wonders collapses on a man who tries to enter; Jafar throws a man down a dark well; Aladdin runs from soldiers (and knocks some over) through the streets and causes some mayhem; The magic flying carpet gets a tear in it; Jafar pushes Aladdin off a ledge; Aladdin almost freezes to death in a frozen wasteland he's banished to; Jafar magically freezes the Sultan, which causes him to struggle (and he appears to be in pain); We see Jafar grow into a large, menacing red genie; and some other fantasy violence.


Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.

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