This movie’s success at the box office is not an accident. Set aside your doubts and see it.
Given that I was not impressed by the film’s trailer, I sat down in my seat with minimal expectations. However, I must admit that I remain a big fan of Director Guy Richie given several of his prior films that I loved, which include Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Snatch (2000), RocknRolla (2008) and the Sherlock Holmes films (2009 and 2011). This was reason enough to buy a ticket.
Regardless, Aladdin gradually developed an emotional power that resonated throughout the theatre, and my skepticism soon disappeared. While Will Smith gives an unexpected captivating performance as the Genie who can grant three wishes, the movie’s power centers on several performances by largely unknown actors. That begins with memorable roles from Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine, Nasim Padrad as the Princess’s aide Dalia and the unforgettable performance of Marwan Kenzari as the villain Jafar.
Starting with Mr. Massoud, his Aladdin is a street thief who survives with skill and cunning. This included stealing a wristband after accidentally bumping into Princess Jasmine, and it was immediately apparent that the Princess had stolen his heart. Subsequently captured by Jafar and forced to hunt down the lamp that contains the Genie, a series of incidents occur that result in the Genie becoming his close friend.
Without saying more, he uses one of his wishes to be converted into a prince so that he can pursue a romantic relationship with Jasmine. As far as Ms. Scott’s Jasmine, it was hard not to fall as much in love with her as did Aladdin. While she also remembered her encounter with Aladdin in the street referred to above, she concentrated her hopes on succeeding her father to become the first female sultan of Agrabah.
A struggle soon develops when Jafar seeks to gain control of the Kingdom, and the reappearance of Aladdin as a prince along with the help of Mr. Smith’s Genie involves a confrontation that will easily hold your attention. It is here that Smith demonstrates his extraordinary talent as a magical character who demonstrates a comic genius that will leave you repeatedly laughing. And I must say that Ms. Pedrad’s Dalia matches Smith’s comic charm.
However, it was three unanticipated contributions that made the movie Aladdin a must-see film. While the first is Mr. Kenzari’s role as an evil villain that will leave you rooting against him from his first moment on screen, the other two creative roles come from Aladdin’s small monkey friend with the name Abu and Jafar’s wicket parrot. Abu provides needed help to Aladdin at every turn while that blasted parrot may be the first bird to appear on screen that has absolutely no conscience.
Finally, though the music starts a bit slowly, there are a number of powerful songs in this film, the best coming from Jasmine and Aladdin. You will be surprised by their emotional impact.
While this is another movie that many critics have dismissed as being a lackluster recreation of the original animated film, it would be curious to hear their reaction given the fact that the general public has embraced this movie. In many ways these reviewers have become like T.V. weathermen who are proven to be wrong on many of their predictions, and in the process they are losing their credibility given the legacy they have left with their dismissal of last year’s hit Bohemian Rhapsody.
When rainy day predictions turn out to be nothing more than days of sunshine, it’s best to change the channel.