Iwent to watch Aladdin with rather low expectation, but determined to enjoy the family outing with a number of kids in the group. Surprisingly, both the adults and children enjoyed the movie a lot, for many reasons.

Firstly, this live-action remake of a classic story that’s been around in the animated form offers fans a chance to enjoy it in a different flavour, with real actors adding more life to the action. Then secondly, all the computer generated effects add awesome magic to the action and the 3D takes the viewing experience to a whole new level.

The filmmakers have retained most of the storyline from the original 1992 film, but seem to have added a few new touches and scenes to make it appealing to the current audience. For instance, Jasmine’s handmaiden is a new character introduced in the form of Dalia, played with much spark by Nasim Pedrad and she falls in love with the Genie without realising who he is.

There is Jasmin herself, who is shown as a new age woman who refuses to be just seen and not heard. Naomi Scott essays the role well with the right touch of lonesomeness as a princess almost locked away in the castle and who has to marry a prince so that her kingdom gets a ruler to take over from her old father. She shows herself to be knowledgeable, caring and strong, quiet capable to rule over her own kingdom.

Mena Massoud adds a lot of innocence and charm to Aladdin, the street thief with a heart of gold who is smitten by Princess Jasmin without realising her true identity. Forced into getting the magic lamp from a dangerous and mysterious cave by Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), he finds himself the master of the all-powerful Genie of the lamp.

Some of the best scenes of the movie are those of Aladdin and Genie. The two form a touching friendship where the Genie, despite being under Aladdin’s command, is the one guiding and pushing Aladdin towards doing the right things and making the right wishes.

Now coming to the character of Genie, Will Smith brings a lot of energy, eccentricity and sudden flashes of the right emotions to it. The visual effects to make the character magical work very well. The first few scenes of the Genie, especially when he first appears to Aladdin in the cave and breaks into the song A Friend Like Me, are really over-the-top and chaotic. However, in the later ones where he settles into life outside the lamp most of the time, Smith makes himself really endearing as the blue big muscles guy.

I was, however, disappointed in Marwan Kenzari’s Jafar, the deceptive sorcerer and Grand Vizier of Agrabah, just didn’t seem evil and menacing enough, except in his last scene. And yes, two very important characters of this movie need a mention too — Abu, the monkey, and the Magic Carpet. They are central to the plot and serve as the ever-present friends around the hero that we see in desi movies. They are charming in their own way.

The songs are mostly performed by the cast, with the classic A Whole New World enchanting both musically and for its picturisation and choreography. I found Scott’s vocals very powerful and her performance stellar in Speechless.

There is much to enjoy about Aladdin, a movie for the whole family.

Published in Dawn, Young World, June 29th, 2019

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