Shining, Shimmering, Splendid
"Disney's Aladdin (2019)", will be referred to simply as "Aladdin" throughout the review, even though it is not the original version. Keep in mind, I have not seen Disney's Aladdin (1992, Original.) very recently. Also, I am very much aware that this review is VERY LONG, but I pride myself in taking an in-depth, comprehensive look at movies. For your convenience, I have added headers to the top of each category to improve your ability to quickly find what you need. This is also my first review on "commonsensemedia©", so, please, keep in mind, I am still learning.
MY VIEW ON THE DISNEY REMAKE/SEQUEL/RETELLING CONTROVERSY:
Though I could talk about this infinitely, my summed up thoughts on the ever-present controversy about Disney remaking their films is that, so long as the story is updated and changed while still respecting the source material, there is no harm in revisiting a classic Disney story with new actors and aspects. Though I understand that, yes, it would be pleasant if Disney released more movies that were not sequels or remakes of older movies, I do wish that people could accept the fact that the movie exists, and that if it's not for them, that's okay, but that it could be an opportunity for people to experience the old story in a new way. They don't have to go see it if they don't want to, and the older version still exists, but in my eyes, so long as said sequels, remakes and retellings are done justice and adapted well, I see no harm in Disney making said films.
WHAT IT DID WELL:
I am over the moon to report that, in my subjective opinion, (which it is, again, fine to disagree with) Aladdin has successfully achieved all of my requirements for a successful Disney remake! (see, "MY VIEW ON THE DISNEY REMAKE/SEQUEL/RETELLING CONTROVERSY:
".) Gosh, am I glad to say that, because, frankly, this movie had such a pre-established bad reputation before the flick even came out that I had walked in expecting to be slightly disappointed, but I was willing to see what Disney had to throw at us, and I am SO glad I went! Though it takes a little bit to get going, don't leave the theater just yet! Once it did get moving, I didn't want to look away! Everything, EVERYTHING about this film (in exception to two parts which I will get to in section "WHAT IT DIDN'T DO WELL") just wowed me, and I was at the edge of my seat! I know that Guy Ritchie directed this movie, and even though I didn't give two magic lamps who this guy was, I can say that his artistic vision for this movie was on point. The sets, actors, camera angles, (including the fabulous slo-mo shots which I have heard he is famous for) heck, even the COMEDY immersed me into the photogenic world of Agrabah and all of the movie's various locales. This is also aided by the incredible soundtrack, including the new songs. ("Speechless" left me with goosebumps and a few tears.) Though I won't directly say that I preferred some of the renditions of the classic songs to the originals, I can say almost all of these songs hit me like an arrow to the heart*, and I was pumped during the energetic songs and touched in the emotional ones. Obviously, the costumes were incredible, (in exception to Aladdin's "street rat" clothes which look too professional and his hair looked like it was so meticulously touched up to the point in which he doesn't look like he's on the streets anymore) but most impressive, though, in my (unpopular) opinion, is how this film really picked the right actors for every role. Mena Massoud's charismatic interpretation of Aladdin killed it! Throughout almost the entirety of the movie, even when he was not at his best points, I felt as though he was a real guy, and I was really rooting for him the whole time. Naomi Scott, whose performances brought me to tears, brings a new, strong character to the already progressive for her time original Jasmine. Though Marwan Kenzari's version of Jafar may not look incredibly intimidating, you can feel the tenseness and I can guarantee his deliveries will send chills down your spine. Finally, and, if I am correct, the MOST CONTROVERSIAL PICK FOR AN ACTOR OF ALL TIME, (in my opinion) Will Smith knocked it out of the park in his interpretation of the Genie! No, he will never beat Robin Williams because NO-ONE will beat Robin Williams, but he gave it his best shot, and I think he crushed it. Even if not as good as Robin's, he had incredible joke delivery. Everyone is talking about how "horrendous" and "offensive" and "disgusting" the look for the Genie was in the film while he was in his blue, genie look, yet I honestly did not find it to be any of the aforementioned terms, but instead, somewhat natural looking. Yes, if you look at him too long, your eyes'll get a little confused, but most of his scenes are in his human form, so it's not too big of a problem.
*No children were harmed during the viewing of this film. (That I know of.)
WHAT IT DIDN'T DO WELL:
Obviously, every film has it's problems, and this one is no exception. It is just as important to recognize our lows as it is our highs. However, by no means do these flaws break the movie; Not in the slightest! They are just the ever so slightly wilted lettuce on the perfect Aladdin sandwich. As previously mentioned, two things irked me about the film. First, the first 15-ish minutes of the film just felt a little bit off. (In exception to the killer rendition of "Arabian Nights".) I felt as though the chemistry between the actors was not up to par, the effects were iffy, and, in general, the first 15-ish just felt a little bit confused. In addition, and I can't quite put my nose on it, but the "A Whole New World" sequence just felt a little lack-luster. By no means was it bad, it was just not as good as it could've been. How was the rendition of the song? Fine. How were the visuals? Fine. How was the chemistry? Fine. They didn't really do anything WRONG, exactly, but it just wasn't as good as I was thinking it would be.
COMMON SENSE MEDIA'S QUESTIONS:
"Great messages": Women are powerful and have a voice that counts, don't change yourself for relationships, etc.
"Great role models": Though we can learn from his mistakes, Aladdin does have good morals and character values to admire, and I can see many young children looking up to him. Don't even get me started on Jasmine; She is strong, independent, she goes to show that women have a voice worth hearing and that being a woman does not mean being a pushover. Just everything about her character was absolutely fabulous. There were other characters that you could potentially look up to, but I think that those are the main ones.
"Too much violence/scary stuff": This one is very dependent on how sensitive your child (or you) is/are. I was a VERY timid child, and even though horror movies and such are still not within my comfort zone whatsoever, this movie didn't at any point scare me. That said, it could absolutely traumatize certain children, depending on how easily they scare. However, should I have seen it at age 8, I would be utterly scarred for life. There are many special effects and loud noises in all of Jafar's scenes and the "Cave of Wonders" scene, but I imagine most 8 year-olds could handle it. I said children age 9 could handle it, as a median of the two number 8 and 10 to give you my best estimate.
"Too much sexy stuff": Aside from some kisses which can be handled by most kids, not too much in this category.
"Too much swearing": If I remember correctly, the most it got to was rude terms such as "street rat", and "riffraff". Not too much here.
"Too much consumerism": Though none in the movie, there is merchandise and advertising everywhere for this film. It is Disney after all.
"Too much drinking/drugs/smoking": I think that the extent here was Will Smith's Genie held a martini for, like, two seconds. Not a big deal.
"Educational value": This movie is not trying to be educational, except in the way of guiding one in finding Ababwa on a map,(you'll get the reference if you've seen it) but that's not necessarily a bad thing. A little fun here and there is always welcome.
Though this movie is not perfect, (No movie is, not even, "A Star Is Born". Yep, I said it.), I think it is an absolute blast handled extremely well. I almost never cry at movies, and at this one, I cried twice, and, in addition, rarely do I ever so strongly desire to see a film for a second time in theaters, and, at the time of my writing this review, I can't wait to see this movie again! It is such a visual and audible spectacle that I recommend you see it in the nicest theatre you can. I have confidence that most people (who aren't snobs looking to nitpick every piece of a movie like it is an atom) will really enjoy this adaptation, even if they loved or hated the original one. Though I had complaints, they so minimally affected the actual movie, and considering I left the theatre with a light, happy feeling, I will be rating Disney's Aladdin (2019) a 95/100%. (Yeah, I know I said "5 stars", but you had to pick 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, so I rounded up.)