ALADDIN | Sat 29 June | 11am
In this update of the nineties Disney classic, down on his luck street-rat Aladdin finds himself in a whole new world of palace intrigue and magic when he unleashes a cosmically powerfully genie from his magical lamp.
With three wishes at his disposal, can he evade the machinations of the treacherous Palace Vizier Jafar and win the heart of Princess Jasmine?
It would be fair to say that the live action re-imaginings of the various Disney properties have a pretty variable hit rate, running the gamut from sublime (The Jungle Book) to dead on arrival (Dumbo), however with Aladdin it appears that the House of Mouse has once again found their footing, delivering a solid entry that mostly lives up to it’s animated predecessor.
Though mostly faithful to its forebear, Aladdin 2019 does boast some much welcome modern flourishes, particularly where Princess Jasmine is concerned. Rendered without a voice by the gender politics of the time, she’s frustrated by her role as political collateral rather than as a potential successor to the sultan threading a rather welcome Game-of-Thronesian plot thread through the more familiar material.
Casting is also a hit. Mena Massoud is an affable lead with a million dollar smile and the athletic chops to get your pulse pounding during Aladdin’s tumbling through the rooftops of Agrabah but he’s more than matched by Naomi Scott in a star-making turn as Princess Jasmine.
If there are any stumbles, it’s when the film hues too closely to the original. Will Smith’s Genie is ill at ease recreating the late Robin Williams’ riffs fairing better when allowed to find his own speed as a magical blue-smoke Hitch rather than the hyper-elastic, pop-culture, motor mouth from the original animation.
The classic songs are all here, with the addition of a so-so solo for Jasmine, however a sheen of Post-Frozen pop which, along with some awkward lyric re-jigs, rob them of some of their grandeur. Little ones with no memory of the original will be no doubt delighted with the bouncy ballads but they’re bound to hit a bit of a false note with the more senior members of the audience.
All in all, it’s solid Disney fun that shows there’s still magic left in the lamp.