Aladdin- Cave of Wonders or Agrabah in ruins?

Aladdin has returned! 

Release date: 24 May 2019 (United Kingdom)

Director: Guy Ritchie

Genre: Adventure, Family 

The Cinema has become a “Cave of Wonders” with Disney’s latest live-action production out on the silver screen. Will it have to keep “One Jump Ahead” of the critics, or turn out to be a “Diamond in the Rough?”

Cue the sitars, the bright coloured silks and a rather scary looking, blue Will Smith, Aladdin is here!


Disney’s current mission is revamping a lot of its classic animated movies with huge budget, star studded, live-action remakes. As a big Disney nerd, ever time one of these movies is announced I’ve waited patiently for each teaser and trailer release. Ready to see if the vision I have in my head will be what ends up on the screen. The trend started with the release of Alice in Wonderland in 2010 but really started to take off with Cinderella in 2015. With the original animations dating as far back to the 1940s, the intended audience has vastly changed its expectations of what makes a hit film and the thus the reactions to the remakes has been pretty mixed, Beauty and The Beast (2017) grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide, becoming the highest grossing live-action musical film to date, whereas poor Dumbo (2019) didn’t quite “fly”. The latest film to go through this transformation is Aladdin, originally released in 1992, with a whole schedule of remakes still to come, nearly everyone’s old school Disney favourite is going to get a makeover.

The Diamond in the Rough

Everyone knows the story of Aladdin, right? A poor street thief gets tricked into fetching an “ordinary” lamp from the mystical, booby-trapped Cave of Wonders.  But you guessed it, it is no ordinary lamp. After being double-crossed by the man who sent him into the cave, Aladdin’s quick-fingered companion, Abu the monkey, steals the lamp back. Now trapped in the cave  Aladdin rubs the lamp and releases the Genie who’s been trapped inside for hundreds of years. As the new master of the lamp, the Genie grants Aladdin three magic wishes. Disney took this Middle Eastern folk tale and turned it into a musical spectacular.


The perfect recipe 

Growing up, I loved Aladdin. It was full of catchy songs, a slimy villain you could really dislike, a feisty, independent Princess and of course, the Genie. Being an animation there was no limit to the imagination of the creators, if they could think it, they could draw it. Are we going to miss out because its live action? Of course not, it’s Disney!
The best example of this is the procession of the newly transformed “Prince Ali Ababwa” through the streets of Agrabah to the Sultan’s Palace, it felt like a non-stop party. With a fantastic blend of CGI, special effects and a huge cast of dancers and extras, the remake blew the original out the water.

The colours, costumes, choreography all came together to create a cinematic masterpiece that will leave a huge grin on anyone’s face. I wish I could just watch that scene on repeat for a while just to see every little detail they put it again and again. It was a celebration of epic proportions! It is worth watching the film for just this scene alone. The drums start, getting louder and louder, then the rhythm section, then the trumpets. From start to finish, I challenge you not to dance along in your seat.

Will Smith.. The Genie?!

When the announcement was made that Will Smith had been cast to play the Genie, it was met with a bit of a backlash. He admittedly looked a bit terrifying, and how could anyone even try to match Robin Williams’ iconic portrayal? But in my opinion, he aced it.

Say hello to The Fresh Genie of Agrabah.

There is no arguing that Smith has taken a lot of inspiration from Williams but his own style is clearly evident overall and works so well. The traditional Eastern influence is still there in his songs, but there’s an added modern rap twist which surprisingly works.

With an extra forty minutes of runtime added to the original, the film does feel a bit padded out, especially towards the end where the film has a feel of switching genre from musical to action. But overall it’s a fast-moving adventure for young and old alike. Princess Jasmine gets her own solo ballad “Speechless”, a defiant dismissal of the notion that Princesses are to be seen and not heard. It’s a powerful reminder that she is a much stronger character in this remake than she was in the original. Her story moves from the focus of being forced to marry a Prince. To not being able to be Sultan because she’s a woman.  This is a much better message for modern times. Our more recent Princesses don’t need a Prince to save them anymore.


That’s a wrap on Aladdin! 

If you don’t like musicals, it goes without saying that this is not the film for you. If like me, you are a big Disney fan, or you grew up in the 1990s then Aladdin is a must! It is great fun for all the family and has everything you could ever want. And for some reason, it will leave you craving baklava…

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