Will Smith was initially anxious about playing the genie in Disney's live action version of "Aladdin" after the celebrated performance by the late Robin Williams more than 25 years ago, but says it eventually became a joy. Also, most importantly, Abu, Rajah, Carpet, and Iago are fantastic non-human companions, and Iago (Alan Tudyk) made me laugh several times. Both films are bona fide classics of Disney's Animation's 2nd Golden Age, and turning them into live-action features makes good business sense for Walt Disney Pictures. As the thieving "street rat", Aladdin, Mena Massoud is dreamy but a bit flat, especially his singing numbers.
So, why the change in costume? "Like, imagine we're talking and he just did [came up and stood here]". Caught in between is princess Jasmine, Aladdin's love.
Jasmine has one of the film's new songs.
Alas, it seems Aladdin's pecs will remain a mystery to us all (unless of course you follow Massoud on Instagram).
The fact that it's actually "Speechless", a new, original song written for Princess Jasmine, speaks to not only how Disney improved upon the animated classic, but also how the movie addresses the problematic aspects of the original to make it more modern and relatable.
As Smith tells it, he didn't just think Massoud was a background dancer - he thought he might have a "security situation" on his hands when Massoud walked into Smith's conversation with director Guy Ritchie.
The flipside to that - you have an very bad lot to live up to and assembling a live-action cast that can do the roles justice becomes absolutely crucial, and here, it's pretty spot on.
The Aladdin movie premiere is proudly powered by Sky Cinemas, Sky Mall (Farm Bus stop, KM 46 Lekki-Epe Expressway), and sponsored by Coca-Cola, Dominos, Pinkberry, Coldstone, Vida and Amstel Malta. Aladdin does it first and, thinking Jasmine would be too scared to do it herself, starts to make a path for her, but she leaps anyway on her own.
It's that last point which will probably detract the most from a lot of people's enjoyment, and if you're one of those folks who just want to see your cartoons acted out by real people, then sure, the recreation is serviceable.
At the center of everything is some awesome chemistry between Massoud and Scott. Nasim Pedrad's Dalia lights up the screen and steals the scenes she's in.
The Lion King will be released in theaters on July 19, 2019. What a different, livelier movie this would be if Smith got jiggy with the song, and applied some "Fresh Prince" rap stylings.
In the video, Smith has said, "Baadshah, great work man, that's lovely, it is amusing looking at the things that you used that are in the movie, that's a good product that you got going on". Not just when it comes to Jasmine's outfits, but throughout the cast right down to the extras.
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