Am a huge Disney fan and have been for pretty much my whole life, 'Cinderella', 'Peter Pan' and 'The Lion King' being my first Disney films (still love all three, especially 'The Lion King'). 'Aladdin' is one of my favourites from them as well as being one of my favourite animated and even overall films. Great animation, songs, characters and one of Disney's best voice acting performances ever in Robin Williams. Will admit to not being overly excited hearing that there was going to be a live-action remake and was a bit mixed on the trailer.
Have nothing against remakes, or at least try not to, and have liked a few of Disney's previous live-action remakes. The best being 'The Jungle Book' and 'Cinderella'. Will Smith when he has good material is a likeable actor and still have fond memories of watching 'The Fresh Prince of Bel Air' when younger. Although not a fan of Guy Ritchie, there is no bias against him either. Decided to see 'Aladdin' with mixed expectations, due to being such a big fan of Disney and after hearing from a few friends that it was good.
Do sadly have to agree with those that were disappointed and this is even when judging 'Aladdin' (2019) on its own merits. There is a lot of spectacle and most of it is great, but the magic and soul were missing. Again, like as was said for the recent version of 'The Lion King', there has always been an effort to not excessively compare and judge something on its own, but when one version is so great and another fails badly in comparison it is hard not to.
There are good things with 'Aladdin'. Although very Bollywood-ish (am not saying that as a bad thing, just an observation),the costumes and sets are big, colourful and quite lavish. Some of the photography dazzles. The music that still has the involvement of Alan Menken, songs and score (the music being one of the main reasons as to why the animation is the classic that it is),is a sheer delight. The likes of "Friend Like Me" and "A Whole New World" being classics. Here the older songs are re-worked and there are a couple of new ones, complete with some equally dynamic new scoring. "Friend Like Me" and "A Whole New World" are very nicely done, and also really liked the more ambitious re-working of "Arabian Nights" and "Speechless" (the better of the two added songs) adds such a lot to Jasmine's character.
Really liked what was done with Jasmine's character, who is by far the most interesting and most developed character in the film and her development is richer than in the animated films. The performances were mixed, with Naomi Scott sparkling like a true diamond as Jasmine and Will Smith makes a very game and spirited effort filling giant shoes and brings a lot of charisma and freshness to Genie. Mena Massoud isn't as strong but is appealing as Aladdin.
However, Guy Ritchie came over as the wrong director. Did think even hearing about it that he was a strange and potentially disastrous choice for the job and his style just doesn't gel and was in serious need of more subtlety. There is some dazzling photography but too much of it is a bit too overblown and gimmicky. The film could have done with having fewer special effects and they tend to not be all that great, felt even from the trailer that Genie looked weird and my feelings haven't changed. The script could have done with more freshness.
For me too the story was in need of more charm, energy and soul. It doesn't quite suffer as badly as 'The Lion King' from being too faithful and not having enough of its own identity, but what comes over faithfully does not have the same impact or feel anywhere near as fresh. The additional content mostly doesn't add as much as ought and bloats the film, which could have been 15 minutes shorter (which was a fairly similar problem too with 'Beauty and the Beast'). Marwan Kenzari is a complete non-entity as a pretty one-note Jafar, whose back-story was laudable on paper but wasn't particularly compelling somehow. Abu, Iago and Rajah don't make anywhere near the same impression either, though Abu has his moments (helps too that Frank Welker is back, Iago however sounded odd without Gilbert Gottfried who voiced the character for the original and its two sequels and the television show).
On the whole, lacklustre but has its moments. 4/10