A delightful live-action remake featuring an outstanding Will Smith

Disney started producing sequels and live-action remakes of our favorite classics to bring new generations to the cinema and it worked, until now: The Return of Mary Poppins and Dumbo convinced even the skeptics, but what about Aladdin? Some years ago, a live-action adaptation of the Arabian-inspired tale was unimaginable. How could you bring to the big screen such a colorful, folkloristic story without appearing ridiculous? Again, Disney did it right.

Directed by Guy Ritchie and co-written with John August, the remake debuts in Italy today and globally on May 24, 2019.

For those who are not familiar with the story, the new film follows the 1992’s plot: Aladdin is a street urchin who lives in the fictional city of Agrabah with his pet monkey, Abu. One day, wandering around the city market, he accidentally meets Jasmine, the Sultan’s daughter: she’s in disguise and Aladdin has no idea she’s a princess, but soon he’ll find out. The two fall in love with each other, but they cannot marry because the law requires Jasmine to marry a prince. Meanwhile Jafar, the evil Royal Vizier of Agrabah, is desperately looking for a magic lamp that would give him the power to become the new sultan: the lamp is hidden in the Cave of Wonders, a place only one worthy person can visit. After putting many lives at risk, Jafar decides to ask for Aladdin’s help: the lamp in return for wealth. Unaware of his intentions, Aladdin accepts and finally retrieves the lamp: accidentally he also releases Genie, who lives inside it. With his help, Aladdin will try to conquer Jasmine’s heart and to obstruct Jafar’s plan.

The first thing to say is that the new Aladdin doesn’t look ridiculous at all: the film has a good mix of visual effects, studio sequences and open-air scenes (it was partly shot in Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan), that’s why it doesn’t look too unnatural. Aladdin adds some new touches to the story, keeping the spirit of the original film, as well as new songs that enrich its famous music repertoire.

Mena Massoud (Run This Town, Jack Ryan) and Naomi Scott (The Martian, Power Rangers) play Aladdin and Jasmine: the two young actors kept the same on-screen chemistry we saw in the two animated characters. The cast also includes Marwan Kenzari (Jafar) and Navid Negahban (the Sultan), but the shining star of Aladdin is Will Smith, who plays Genie: the american actor and rapper didn’t try at all to emulate Robin Williams, who voiced the character in 1992. Smith put his histrionic personality at the service of the fun-loving creature, transforming the original Genie in a rippling, updated version of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Everyone has a Disney favorite and, if Aladdin is yours, you will like Guy Ritchie’s take on the original: prepare to see sumptuous and memorable dance scenes and to sing the new songs with your kids.

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