New Aladdin covers old ground

Mena Massoud in Aladdin (IMDB)

Disney’s live-action Aladdin is a family outing that treads familiar territory with a 21st century twist. Source: ACOFB

The young potential audience for this new version of Aladdin will probably have seen Disney’s 1992 animated version (and more than once), with that hyped performance by Robin Williams as the voice of Genie and the animation enabling him to swirl into all kinds of alternate disguises and all kinds of comic, even manic, voices.

And, for the youngsters who saw it back in 1992, they are now in a position to indulge in a guilty pleasure of watching this version with their own children. And, this might be the best comment to make – it is definitely a family outing.

Most of us are familiar with the basic story of the young thief in the city, the princess in the palace, the evil vizier with political and power ambitions, the lamp in the cave housing a genie offering three wishes and the magic carpet.

Back in the 90s, there were those wonderful songs, the triumphant Prince Ali marking the entrance of Aladdin disguised as a prince to capture Princess Jasmine’s heart, A Whole New World on the carpet and the Genie’s A Friend Like Me. They're all included here, but the film has been updated for the 21st century with extra songs placing greater emphasis on the role of the Princess. Jasmine does not want to be married off and she notes that while the Sultan has always been male, she is a strong candidate for a female Sultan. The lyrics (and title) of her signature song emphasises that she will not be Speechless.

The setting of the fictional city of Agrabah is a wonderful and spectacular land, with its palace on the hill, lavish costumes and decor, bright design, even brighter colours. Plenty to excite the eyes.

Mena Massoud is a genial Aladdin, adept at thieving, more than adept in infiltrating the palace and in love with Princess Jasmine, portrayed by British actor Naomi Scott with beauty, charm and toughness.

Will Smith does his best as the smiling, singing, wisecracking Genie and some special effects enabling him to be like the animated genie of the original film.

– Reviewed by Fr Peter Malone MSC, ACOFB

Aladdin: Starring Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari. Directed by Guy Ritchie. 128 minutes. Rated PG (Mild fantasy themes).

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Aladdin (ACOFB)

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