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Disney’s live-action ‘Aladdin’ is less magical than the original

This image released by Disney shows Mena Massoud as Aladdin in Disney's live-action adaptation of the 1992 animated classic "Aladdin." (Disney via AP)

Imagine an art project that is made by drawing; then, picture the same piece of art, this time painted instead. It looks pretty similar but knowing that it is a replica makes it not as appealing. The same could be said for the remake of the 1992 classic Disney animated film, “Aladdin.” The live-action version may not be as memorable as the original, but it is still a quality rendition.

Street-thief Aladdin (Mena Massoud) sets off on a magical journey after befriending princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) and becoming wrapped up with the Sultan’s evil advisor, Jaffar (Marwan Kenzari). Set to find a treasured lamp that holds the genie (Will Smith), Aladdin discovers that his new mystical friend can help turn his life around.

After the first few minutes, it’s clear to see that the remake is going to stick to the source material fairly faithfully. As the film progress, it appears as if the screenwriters played it a little too safe.

Having just watched the original a few days before this version, the copy and paste moments were noticeable. Those moments were the best, however. Like the animated film, I was fully engrossed. It made me ponder the point in doing a remake if the moments I enjoy the most are the ones exactly like its predecessor. While there are additional scenes that add a little something extra, they are superfluous. The interesting parts are the ones we have seen before. Those unnecessary new additions tack on many minutes that caused me to be a little restless in my seat. Considering that the original is less than an hour a half long, the two hours plus running time can really be felt.

Similar to the story, the music was spot on. The famous songs from 20 years ago sound just as good and are dazzling to watch. The songs made exclusively for this film though are passable but are moderately annoying cause they add nothing to the story. This is especially the case with the one that occurs during the climax of the film; there is no need for a song that kills the tension and slows down the pacing at a crucial point. Like this number and a few others, the camera movement was stale.

A few musical scenes just had a frontward facing tracking shot. I believe this is a result of the particularly odd choice of having Guy Ritchie on as director. His previous work includes frantically cut, exciting movies like “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” and the two, newer Sherlock Holmes film. His misplacement was apparent in a musical.

When the trailer for this remake was first released, Will Smith received much backlash for his portrayal as the Genie. He may be no Robin Williams, yet surprisingly, he is one of the best parts of the film. He gives the character a new energy and makes it his own. Smith’s chemistry with Massoud is pretty fantastic as well. The two bounce lines off another so well that it feels natural. As for the rest of the cast, Scott and Kenzari do their respective parts sufficiently, but not much more.

It is hard to watch the live action “Aladdin” without thinking that the original is better. There is not much to identify the film as its own but there is still enough magic in it to keep you on board that magic carpet.

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