I understand why in 2019, Aladdin would seem ripe for a revival – in Disney’s 1992 animated musical, its heroine, Princess Jasmine, was a smart, selfless woman of the people, shackled and suppressed by her overbearing father. Guy Ritchie’s live-action remake capitalises on the story’s potential for female empowerment, giving Jasmine a brand new solo called Speechless. It helps that Naomi Scott, who plays the princess, has a lovely singing voice and, in a dance-off, moves with the confidence of a pop star.
The plot, of a street urchin who acquires a magic lamp, remains faithful to the original, but the scale feels off. The CGI looks cheap and the sets are panto‑production small. The Sultan’s evil adviser Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) lacks both the camp and the cunning of his cartoon counterpart, while a likeable Will Smith can’t replicate the zippy, madcap energy Robin Williams brought to the role of Genie (an impossible task, in his defence). As for Aladdin himself, Mena Massoud’s boyband haircut brings a certain charm, but like the rest of the film, he’s blandly competent.
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