Did you see the original animated classic “Aladdin” in theaters? My first Disney animated movie that I saw in theaters was “The Lion King,” but I have loved “Aladdin” almost as long as that one. What’s the deal with the new 2019 Aladdin? Does it live up to the hype? Is it ok for kids? Let’s dive into my Disney live action Aladdin review.
Live Action Aladdin Review
When the trailers and still images first came out into the public eye, they were not well received. In fact, the first photo of Genie had people all up in arms. Listen, while I agree, we gotta be realistic here. This live action remake is based on an animated movie. It’s going to have to have some CGI to make it work. I’m going to break my review down section by section so we can really dive into all the important aspects of this live action Aladdin review.
Aladdin Movie Specifics
First, the 2019 version of “Aladdin” is 2 hours and 9 minutes long. This is about 30 minutes too long for me (and for my child that went with me to be honest). It is rated PG for “mild peril and adventure,” and I would agree with that rating. There is very mild violence (mostly punches and swordplay), no blood (that I remember seeing), and no death/killing that is drug out for effect.
Acting in Aladdin
What about the acting in Aladdin? Will Smith is billed first on the acting list, and for good reason. Mena Massoud, who plays Aladdin, and Naomi Scott, who plays Jasmine, are relatively unknown. However, the chemistry between Massoud and Scott is evident from the first scene, and they are completely believable as the main characters.
Will Smith, for everyone’s questioning about his casting, was really, really good. He took the character of the Genie and made it his own. He turned iconic songs from the original film into something new with a little of his well known hip-hop flair thrown in there. I really loved him as the Genie.
Marwan Kenzari was fine as Jafar. I missed that trademark deep voice and overall evil persona, but when it really counted, he was believable. The final scene was probably his best work in the entire film.
Aladdin Special Effects-Did They Enhance or Distract?
As a reminder, this movie was based on the original animated feature film. It’s hard to insert real people into animated characters and expect them to not have any CGI or special effects. For what it’s worth, I was no distracted by the special effects. The Genie felt real whether he was blue or brown.
I particularly loved the treatment of the Magic Carpet. It was just as “alive” in this movie as it was in the animated one. The only effect that wasn’t up to par for me was each time Jafar tried to mind control someone. It just wasn’t strong enough to seem convincing to me.
The Music (with TWO new songs)
Aladdin is well known for its amazing soundtrack (hat tip to you, Mr. Alan Menken), and the new songs added were great. I do have to agree that Jasmine’s solo song, while powerful, felt oddly placed in the movie. That was one thing a lot of reviewers agreed on. Why is there a music video-esque scene in the middle of a really great movie. It didn’t need it.
“Friend Like Me” and “A Whole New World” were incredible. I loved every second of those two musical numbers, and I almost got a little teary over the second one. Naomi and Mena can sang, yall.
Live Action Aladdin-Is it Ok for Kids?
Finally, the most important piece of my review. Is this movie one you can take kids to? My answer is yes. As previously stated, the violence is minimal and there is no foul language. Like zero. None. Thank you, Disney! There are two scene in which Jasmine and Aladdin kiss, but they are short and sweet, and every keeps their clothes on.
The deciding factor on age for this one is the length of the film. Between the amazing, colorful song and dance numbers, there are a few slow scenes. In fact, between “Prince Ali” and the new song “Speechless” there is quite a lull in the excitement. Make sure your little ones can sit still for that long or maybe choose a showing during the early morning hours that might have less patrons who would mind kids moving around during the movie.
Aladdin is playing in theaters everywhere May 24!