Disney movies played a big part in my childhood, and I guess everyone who was a kid in the ’90s can pretty much relate to this. In all honesty, I could barely remember the animated Aladdin of 1992 so I decided to Netflix it again before seeing the live-action version. I was actually looking forward to the Genie played by Will Smith, and hoped that maybe there could be some sort of ’90s vibe to it, back when I was a tweeny bopper. Surprisingly, nostalgia didn’t hit me (at least not that hard), instead it gave me a totally different realization on what this Disney movie is all about.
What is it about
“Sometimes you just have to see it from a different perspective,” says Aladdin, and this is exactly what I tried to do to understand that not all of my expectations can be delivered by this film. It’s just that, it didn’t take long enough for me to see myself sitting inside the cinema in my 3D glasses thinking that the movie is pretty much the same – there’s a young thief who took the ignorant-of-the-city-life princess out of trouble and there the magic between them starts; then there’s a power-hungry moron who’s willing to do everything in his power to oust the sultan and rule the kingdom; the young boy, being the street smart ass that he is landed in an enchanted cave where he gets the magic lamp with the Genie in it and he gets three wishes. When I was a little girl, this whole set up was just magic. Now that I’m an adult, there was less magic (except for the magic carpet ride where Mena and Naomi’s version of A Whole New World felt more magical that that of Zayn and Zhavia), and more of a challenge on how I could possibly live by the movie characters’ life lessons.
Please, let’s not talk about how gorgeous Mena Massoud in this movie, with that hair and dimples or I won’t be able finish writing this entry. He’s not like the typical prince I’ve learned to love my whole life – he’s not the type that I would fall in love with at first sight, but he surely captured my heart as the story progresses and that’s important. This boy taught us that not only princes can save damsels in distress, for a street rat like him can also do that much, and more. With the help of more able friends he won by being the good-hearted person that he is (Abu, the Magic Carpet and the Genie), he was able to show our Princess Jasmine the wonders of the real world, beyond the safety of the palace walls. Aladdin also made me realize that pretending to be someone else would only cause disaster. Look at what happened to him and Jasmine during their first encounter with him as Prince Ali.
Oh yes, Naomi Scott is just as gorgeous for a princess, and I can’t say more about her powerful voice (oh how I love that Speechless song towards the near-end). Her features and the costumes all together gave me that Bollywood vibes, in a good way. She’s one of the perfect depictions of women back in the day, when we are not allowed to speak our minds and all we had to do is stay at home and be the pretty wife that husbands could flaunt their friends during drunken feasts. Good thing she knows herself too well – she deserved more than being silent and a woman in search of a perfect husband to whom she could entrust her kingdom.
Social media people were outraged when the “blued” Will Smith allowed us to take a peak of himself as the Genie. I personally didn’t find it odd. After all, Genie is a just a fantasy and there isn’t really a concrete basis of how he should look like. I also think Will Smith’s performance was superb, I felt like he sort of made his own brand of Genie, and not trying to replace someone else. His performance of Prince Ali felt closer, and I love the fact that his brand of music was pretty evident in some of the songs he did. I love Robin Williams too, that’s a fact, and him and Will Smith are both magnificent artists. The Genie reminded us all that there’s no magic powerful enough to defy natural law, that is, to make someone fall in love with you or bring the dead back to life. Being who you are is the ultimate key to opening the door to anyone’s heart, and this advice has led our Aladdin to his first magical date with her beloved princess.
Great power comes with a great price, and that’s the only thing I remember about Jafar and what happened to him in the end. Marwan Kenzari did great even if he doesn’t look as scary as the animated Jafar. Actually, he kind of reminds me of the Middle Eastern CEOs we normally interview at work that my colleagues would sometimes drool over.
Aladdin is the most magical of all the Disney’s live action films to date. In my opinion at least. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard before I saw Prince Ali backflipped in front of Princess Jasmine. It has been a long time since I cried in a grateful-for-this-friendship scene between Aladdin and the Genie. And that magic carpet ride? Oh, that magic carpet ride took me to a different place where there are fireworks and music and stars. The entire cinema experience is just pure magic I was in a whole new world with them.