Runtime: 128 minutes
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Will Smith’s Genie is easily the best part of the movie, but even his performance isn’t without criticism. The special effects are really good, but at this point, Disney has enough money that great special effects aren’t really a surprise in their films; nonetheless, they were impressive. The costume design was great, with an authenticity that was very impressive. They did a great job at incorporating a multitude of colors into the movie, which could have been muddied down by all the various hues of brown from its sandy location. The singing from some of the actors was good (when it was actually them singing) but too often you could tell some of the voices had been digitally touched up after the fact, which ended up being distracting.
I’ve never really liked the idea of taking a beloved animated classic and turning it into a live action film, simply because I feel like there isn’t anything you can add to it with live actors that the original cartoon couldn’t achieve without them. The only Disney live action remake I’ve seen that I truly liked was The Jungle Book; every other movie feels like it exists for no other purpose than to prey upon childhood nostalgia to turn a profit. There weren’t many moments in the film that felt like there was any deeper meaning, and I didn’t really feel any gravity or consequence to any particular event in the film. The acting was serviceable, with the only stand out being Will Smith, but there were too many times where it felt like he was trying to emulate what Robin Williams already did masterfully in the original. The performances at times had the charisma I expected but too often they were dragged down by hollow delivery or bad writing. The songs were okay but the vast majority of them were ripped straight from the original as well, so it wasn’t a big surprise. Every now and then they tried to modernize the songs by adding in beatboxing or auto-tuning, but that just made them feel even worse and more dated.
The humor wasn’t a success either. Every joke that was uttered was met with cringeworthy silence in my theater, and when even Will Smith can’t make an audience laugh, that’s an indication of just how hollow the writing is. There were a few scenes where you could tell they were at least trying to say something meaningful, or trying to give the characters some emotional depth, but it all falls completely flat due to the lazy atmosphere of the film. Sadly I didn’t find myself connecting with any particular character. As I mentioned before, Will Smith seemed to be the only actor really trying to make a good film and it definitely shows, but unfortunately not even his level of charisma was enough to save this film from being another easily forgotten Disney remake.
Aladdin is yet another example of a remake that has no real purpose other than to make money. It wasn’t completely terrible, it just didn’t have any depth or anything to say. It has a few moments where it seems like it may be more than that but sadly those moments aren’t enough to save it from being anything other than a tired cash grab that just makes you want to watch the original 1992 animated masterpiece.
Final Grade: C-
You can follow Cory on twitter @corytweetsfilm