By Marc Woodfork
Fun. That pretty much sums up the new live-action version of Disney’s “Aladdin.” It’s everything you would expect it to be: Massive in scale, fast-paced, energetic musical numbers, vibrant epic landscapes. Almost script for script with the original animated version, this rendition stars Will Smith as the genie. Will does remarkably well in the role. He brings his best Will Smith – all the grandeur, and presence that his big personality evokes.
My criticism stems from the question: Why? Why would Disney bother making live action versions of their animated classics? Just another money grab? Disney spent so much time worrying about how they could make these films instead of asking why they should make the films. There is something about Disney’s animated library that is enchanting, lovable, and nostalgic, that doesn’t translate to live action. Oddly enough, you feel more the characters and enjoy the story more when it is animated. Becoming live action, the films lose their magic. The same can be said for “Aladdin.”
Yes it’s fun. Yes it’s loud. Yes it’s grand. Magical? No. With the exception of Will Smith, the other actors in the film are void of heart and depth. There are many moments of on-screen awkwardness. When I first heard the Guy Ritchie was directing, I was worried that he would have to change his whole style of directing which I am a big fan of, and I wasn’t sure if he was the right choice. It seemed as though he was walking on a tight rope and purposely and painfully had to reel himself in. And that mentality comes across on screen. If you loved the animated version of “Aladdin,” don’t bother watching this one. You’ll leave the theater frustrated that Disney bothered to make it and destroy your fond memories of the animated classic.