So, there I was, sitting in a dark and crowded theatre, quietly waiting for Avengers: Endgame to begin when we were bombarded with an array of new, previously unseen by me movie trailers.
And one of them was for Aladdin.
Ok, so. I have words. Obviously. And my words might actually shock some of you. Maybe not, considering what my last article was about, but you see…well…here’s the thing:
Will Smith as the Genie isn’t horrible.
Honestly, Will Smith Genie was the only joy I got out of the trailer.
Is he Robin Williams? Of course he isn’t. Is he the Genie? Of course not, because the Genie was Robin Williams. He was created with Robin Williams in mind and he was the only person the animators wanted to play the Genie. The Genie and Robin Williams are one in the same.
HOWEVER, Will Smith’s portrayal made me feel perfectly happy. It’s not Robin Williams, but it’s actually pretty close to the Genie.
Ok, I know I just said that the Genie and Robin Williams are one in the same but hear me out. Despite this being an irrefutable fact about the character, the Genie is still a characterfirst and foremost. And what’s his character? He’s larger than life, he’s outgoing, he’s fun and bombastic, often crabby and sarcastic and done with Aladdin’s bullshit – and that’s exactlywhat Will Smith was giving us in that trailer.
Sure the blue CGI looks a little shit and he’s better off just looking human most of the time BUT from what I’ve seen of his performance so far, Will Smith is doing just fine.
EVERYONE ELSE ON THE OTHER HAND…
Okay, that’s not entirely fair. The Sultan is perfect. He’s adorable and the actor playing him looks like he’s having a blast. And Jasmine looks and sounds fine too. Naomi Scott has a lovely voice and I’m interested to see what she’s going to do with the role.
My biggest concerns right now are, unfortunately, the three most important aspects this movie needs to get right for it to be a success: the hero, the villain, and the director.
Let me get this out there: Mena Massoud is hot.
He’s very attractive. When I found out that he was going to play my first Disney crush, I was thrilled. Like, here ya go! Perfect casting. Aladdin is adorable, Mena is adorable. Perfect!
Well…fuck. I don’t know if it’s the lighting or the makeup or whatever the hell they did with his hair but…Mena Massoud’s Aladdin isn’t all that attractive. Which I find SO WEIRD. I mean, look at his actor headshots, right? Seriously, open up a tab and go look at them now. You can see him with a beard, without a beard, with short hair, with long hair. He is undeniably attractive. Even in the pictures taken on the red carpet, the ones that aren’t heavily edited! He’s a good-looking guy!!!
So why is it that whenever I see him in the Aladdin trailers he looks…I don’t know. Ratty? Dirty? I mean…he is a street rat, so maybe that’s why. But then when you see him in his prince outfit he still looks…off.
I dunno what it is.
But, looks aren’t everything! Aladdin is more than just eye candy. Unfortunately, the trailers don’t give us enough to work with to see if he’s got the personality down. What we do get gives us…enough. I’m a little worried his performance will be flat and bland, especially during the more romantic scenes (he seems to work perfectly fine off of Will Smith, though), but we’ll have to see.
Oh Jesus Christ.
So, you know how I said that I thought maybe the wimpy voice Jafar had in the first trailer might’ve been when he was pretending to be a weak old man? Well, this trailer confirms that this isn’t the case. Apparently they’ve scrapped that whole section of the plot and Jafar instead lures Aladdin to the Cave of Wonders as himself…
So…there’re problems with this from a story-telling standpoint. You see, the whole reason Jafar hid his identity from Aladdin the first time was to 1. Gain his trust, and 2. Remove himself from the equation. If he playacts at being a skeevy old man looking for magical treasure, then he can remove himself from the crimes of murder and theft! It’s Crime 101: never commit shady dealings without SOME kind of disguise!
This also helps later when Aladdin meets Jafar again at the palace but doesn’t recognize him as the guy who tried to kill him back at the Cave.
I’m genuinely curious to see how they’re going to wiggle out of this one and if the animosity between Jafar and Aladdin will just be there for, like, the whole movie now and not just when Jafar tries to kill him a second time. I don’t know if what they do is going to be any good, but it’ll be something different anyway.
I will say that the shot of giant, demon Iago flying after Aladdin for half a second in the trailer interested me. I’d be pretty hyped to see Jafar act as more of a sorcerer. I’m down for that.
But goddamn the fucking vooooiiiiiiicccceeeeee. I know on paper that Marwan Kenzari is a good actor. I still haven’t seen him in anything, but I’ve seen his filmography and I trust that he’s good at what he does. But why oh why oh why oh why did they make Jafar sound like such a preening wimp!!! And not just that, but he sounds so…stilted and awkward. It’s not a powerful performance, it’s not over the top, it’s just kind of…bad. I’m still holding out hope that he’ll do a good job, despite my reservations, but…AAAAAHHHHHHHHH it’s really not looking good.
I mean, Mena Massoud will probably do fine as Aladdin, and if the worst I have to say about him is that he’s a little wooden sometimes, then whatever. But I am a staunch believer that a story is only as good as its villain (for the most part) – especially when it comes to Disney movies! Jafar is fucking ICONIC. He terrified me for most of my childhood and now he’s one of my all-time favourites! And now…
The only really good thing I have to say is how much merch there is for him now. It’s a delight. And not just cos I fangirl over the character, but because basically all the merch Pinkie and I have seen is God awful. We explored one of the biggest malls in our area the other day and we found some REALLY interesting shit. I’m not sure my boy was made for toys. Except maybe Funko Pops and LEGOs. Those aren’t nearly as disturbing…
[check out our Insta if you wanna see what I mean.]
If this one is a problem, then the movie is doomed.
Pinkie and I love Guy Ritchie, though I think we love him for different reasons. Pinkie genuinely likes him as a director and loves his style. I like him because I think he makes some of the most ridiculous and ridiculously fun movies I’ve seen in years. We both agree that he’s excellent at action scenes and montages, and when I initially heard that he’d be directing the live-action Aladdin movie I genuinely believed he was the right choice. Aladdin is full of action so it would be interesting to see what he’d do.
Upon watching the newest trailer, Pinkie became genuinely worried. Honestly, he couldn’t really care less about the adaptation (that’s my job), but he does care about this director. His fear is that Disney will overshadow Guy Ritchie.
Now, this is obviously only based on the clips we’ve seen thus far, and as we know trailers don’t really mean jack shit anymore when it comes to showing off what a movie is really going to be like (Ghostbusters wasn’t that bad, Suicide Squad wasn’t that good, and Hellboy was even worse than we could have imagined). But, from what we can see so far, I think it’s reasonable to hypothesize that Disney may have gentrified Guy Ritchie. Even though it would be fun to get pure Guy Ritchie on this project (a la Sherlock Holmes or King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) Disney probably wouldn’t allow it. I mean, look at what’s happened to Tim Burton, one of the most stylized directors of our generation, and his Disney projects. Pinkie and I just saw Dumbo (review coming soon) and it barely even feels like a Tim Burton film at all. Aladdin might be similar.
And that might be…fine. However, I’ve been obsessively keeping on top of the few bits of clips that have been releasing before the film. And…oof.
I mean, we at least thought, if anything, the action and musical sequences would be interesting and well done. And they still may be fine, in all fairness, but the “Prince Ali” number looks rough. It’s so devoid of life and personality. I mean, it’s very bright and colourful, but the movement of the actors and the editing suck all joy out of it. It’s not dynamic or exciting. It honestly kind of reminds me of the “Masquerade” sequence in Joel Schumacher’s The Phantom of the Opera. The edits weren’t on beat, they overuse the master shot, and any edits we do see tend to last only, like, half a second and you can’t even really process it. It’s sloppy and boring and not how you cut a musical sequence. It’s really amateurish.
But, again, that’s only from a promo clip. The editing might be different in the actual film. Hell, I’ve seen different takes of the same lines over the last two weeks being put out there in preparation for this movie, so I have no fucking clue what it’s going to be like.
The only things I know for certain about the movie are the adaptive changes, thanks to the fact that Disney released the novelization of the movie before its release (I’m not exactly well-versed in movie tie-in books but doesn’t that shit usually come out after?). If the adaptive changes in the book are accurate to the film, then I know already that I’m going to have some serious problems with the movie. The thing that will save it for me, personally, is if the film ends up being fun despite the problems with the writing. Hopefully enough style survived the cutting room floor to get some enjoyment.
Aladdin (2019) releases four days from now. Despite myself and despite my reservations I’m still kind of excited to see this movie. If you’ve been following our Instagram, you’ll have seen this hype since I haven’t posted about anything else lately. Sorry about that. It’s just, Aladdin was my favourite Disney movie of all time growing up, and it’s tied for first with Beauty and the Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame now that I’ve matured (a little bit). This is the Disney movie that stole my heart the first time I saw it and never gave it back. I love the characters, the songs, the world. I used to recite the lines from the movie from memory with my dad when I was smol.
As usual, I’m going to try taking off the rose-tinted glasses. It’s not like I think the original Aladdin was flawless, but it’s a timeless Disney classic for a reason. It’s not nostalgia that keeps me in love with the movie. I’ve rewatched it a couple times lately and there are things about the movie that I would never have caught as a kid that I can appreciate now, like the effort put into the character designs and the animation. The original had so much love and personality put into it, and it would be a shame if Disney didn’t handle it with the care and love it deserves.
From what we’ve seen so far, I’m not convinced Disney handled it properly. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.
More reviews coming soon, like Dumbo and Detective Pikachu and John Wick: Chapter 3!
Until next time.