25 September 2023


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Reviewed by Victor Rebikoff.

Director: Guy Ritchie, Walt Disney Pictures, PG 128 Minutes.

Walt Disney’s classic animated feature which won academy awards for music and a golden globe for Robin Williams playing the Genie, has been wonderfully remastered by British director Guy Ritchie (‘Sherlock Holmes’) into a feel-good live-action musical production.

Adopting a similar storyline to the original version, Aladdin (Mena Massoud –‘Ordinary Days’) appears as an amiable street urchin with his monkey Abu happily stealing whatever he wants when he spots Dalia (Naomi Scott-Power Rangers’), a beautiful girl in trouble.

Accused by the stall owner of giving away bread to poor children without paying for it, Aladdin wastes no time offering Dalia’s bracelet as payment before stealing it back, resulting in both being pursued by the Royal Guards.

Once safe in his home, Dalia tells Aladdin she is the handmaiden to the Princess of Agrabah (but doesn’t reveal she is actually Princess Jasmine) before departing promptly to attend to some official duties.

Realising he still has Dalia’s bracelet, Aladdin rushes to the palace to return it to her only to be confronted later by the duplicitous Jafar (Marwan Kenzari –‘The Mummy’) the counselor of the Sultan he is plotting to overthrow.

To achieve his objective Jafar manages to convince Aladdin to locate a magical lamp within the Cave of Wonders but ends up retaining the lamp and releasing a blue-tinged Genie (Will Smith –‘Concussion’) who rewards Aladdin with three wishes.

After granting Aladdin his wish of being transformed into Prince Ali, the jovial Genie arranges for his entrance into Agrabah with great fanfare which fails to impress Princess Jasmine, instead allowing Jafar the opportunity to steal the lamp.

With the lamp in his possession Sultan Jafar appears to hold all the aces until Aladdin devises a sneaky plan with the Genie’s help to have Jafar put it in a special place thus saving the kingdom for Jasmine.

Richie has succeeded in converting the classic animated movie into an enjoyable musical complete with songs associated with the 1992 original not to mention the colourful settings some of which were shot in an Arabic country.

Besides an international cast including many from Middle Eastern backgrounds, the major highlights are the entertaining performances of Smith as the good-natured, larger-than-life CGI enhanced Genie; Massoud as Aladdin; and Scott as Jasmine, singing all those classic songs.

Vic’s Verdict: 3 ½ Stars

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