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Aladdin Movie Review – Plot Twists and Girl Power are Semi-Successful

Disney’s live-action version of its classic is entertaining but far from ground-breaking.

Reviewed by on May 23, 2019
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw Aladdin. It looks amazing but, despite some new plot twists and girl power additions, the storyline is thin and Will Smith is no Robin Williams. Read our review of the live-action movie!

By: Lynn Barker

In Aladdin, in the Arabian country of Agrabah, young street-thief Aladdin (Mena Massoud) meets an undercover princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) and there is an instant attraction. She must marry a prince so, to gain riches and win her love, Aladdin follows the orders of throne-seeking Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), the Grand Vizier, to bring him a magical lamp, which houses a powerful Genie. Now it is up to Aladdin and Genie to stop Jafar’s plans for royal domination and enable Aladdin to marry the love of his life.

Aladdin Movie Trailer #2


Aladdin finds the magic lampAladdin finds the magic lampCourtesy of Disney

The Streets of Agrabah

Young and well-liked street thief Aladdin steals what he can with the aid of his cunning pet monkey Abu. He then sells it to a fence for a scrap of bread or a small bag of dates to eat. One day Aladdin sees a beautiful girl grab a couple of pieces of bread and give them to a hungry family. Aladdin helps her escape the Royal Guards who chase them both.  He takes her to his place, an abandoned tower he has commandeered. She says she is Dalia, a handmaid to the princess. They both realize that they feel trapped in their lives. Abu steals her bracelet and Aladdin realizes he has to get it back to her in the palace.

Aladdin meets the disguised princessAladdin meets the disguised princessCourtesy of Disney

Jafar Plots

Meanwhile, the Sultan's trusted advisor Jafar, is plotting to overthrow the Sultan by getting his hands on a Magic Lamp containing a powerful Genie. However, it is hidden in the enchanted Cave of Wonders and he can’t enter since only a "Diamond in the Rough" is allowed inside. He starts searching for this human “diamond” planning to force him/her to do his bidding.

Jafar wants the sultan's throneJafar wants the sultan's throneCourtesy of Disney

Jasmine Dazzles

At the palace, fancy-dressed Princess Jasmine receives yet another prince who would win her hand. He is Prince Anders (Billy Magnussen) a handsome but seemingly dim-witted wonder. She isn’t impressed and suggests to her dad the sultan that she could rule the land herself. He reminds her about tradition; never a female sultan and Jafar backs this up. She should be seen not heard. Jasmine receives a surprise visit from Aladdin, who has come to return her mother's bracelet stolen by Abu. Still thinking she's Delia, he leaves her with a promise to meet her again, but is caught by the Royal Guards.

Princess Jasmine must meet yet another princePrincess Jasmine must meet yet another princeCourtesy of Disney

Into the Cave

Aladdin is taken to the desert by Jafar who thinks he’s found his “Diamond”.  He tells Aladdin that the girl he met was the princess and that he can make him rich enough to impress her if he helps him retrieve the magic lamp. Aladdin enters the cave filled with treasure which tempts both he and Abu but he finds an animated magic carpet and the lamp. Abu, however grabs a giant ruby and the cave closes seemingly trapping them inside forever.  Aladdin rubs the lamp and out pops a giant blue Genie who grants him three wishes. His first is to escape the cave and he, Genie and Abu are outside.

Jafar wants Aladdin to get the lamp for himJafar wants Aladdin to get the lamp for himCourtesy of Disney

Poof! You’re a Prince

After hearing that the Genie has been in the lamp over 1,000 years, Aladdin offers to make his last wish to free him but first, he wishes to be a prince in the hope of winning Jasmine and he is made Prince Ali. Ali and the transformed Genie in human form enter the palace grounds in a huge entourage with elephants, dancing girls, bands etc. The sultan is impressed and welcomes him.

Prince Ali is awkward at firstPrince Ali is awkward at firstCourtesy of Disney

Finally Impressed

Aladdin/Prince Ali is quite awkward around the princess even when Genie makes him able to dance well at a party. Genie has fallen for the servant Dalia and is off on a stroll with her while Ali tries to impress Jasmine and, on Genie’s suggestion, just tries to be himself as he uses the magic carpet from the cave to take her on a ride all over the countryside. She realizes that he is actually Aladdin but he convinces her his street self was just a prince’s attempt to get to know the people. She was in the town doing the same thing. She buys it and they kiss.

At first Jasmine isn't impressed with Prince AliAt first Jasmine isn't impressed with Prince AliCourtesy of Disney

Jafar Revealed

Jafar knows Ali is Aladdin and ends up tossing the tied-up boy into the bay where he seems to drown but Abu and the carpet arrive with the lamp. Aladdin touches it and is saved by Genie. Aladdin and Genie convince the sultan and Jasmine that Jafar is a traitor and the sultan throws him into the dungeon but he escapes after his parrot sidekick, Iago brings him the keys. Meanwhile, the Sultan thanks “Ali” for revealing Jafar's treachery, and would be happy to have him marry his daughter.

Genie tells Aladdin to be himselfGenie tells Aladdin to be himselfCourtesy of Disney

Happy Ending?

Aladdin decides to keep up the lie; let the princess and sultan believe he is a prince since it works so well. He can’t use his last wish to free Genie as promised since he feels he still needs the Genie’s magic. Heartbroken and betrayed, Genie retreats into the lamp. Aladdin finally realizes he should tell Jasmine the truth but by this point, Jafar has obtained the lamp with Genie inside!  Will “prince” Ali ever be accepted as poor thief Aladdin? Will Jafar take over as sultan by releasing the Genie and commanding him? Will Aladdin and Jasmine ever be a couple?

Genie is in love with DaliaGenie is in love with DaliaCourtesy of Disney

Wrapping Up

The new Aladdin is colorful and entertaining enough but, with live-action, can’t capture all the wacky, fast-moving Genie hijinks achieved by Robin Williams in the animated version. Will Smith’s Genie is far less hyper and, in human form, loses much of his magic. Other than rap, Will isn’t a great singer and some of the big ballads (“Arabian Nights”, “Prince Ali”) show this shortcoming.  He does give the role his own twist and we do like his Genie anyway.

New songs are okay but only “Speechless”, sung effectively by Naomi Scott, is memorable. The songs you know are mostly well-done. Choreography and especially on-foot chase sequences are acrobatic and fun to watch. Director Guy Ritchie is known for some nice chases and lots of creativity is used as Aladdin bounces off awnings and through the streets.

An impressive chase through the cityAn impressive chase through the cityCourtesy of Disney

The real discovery here is singer/actress Naomi Scott as Jasmine. She is gorgeous and you can believe it when she turns feisty and belts out the girl power ballad “Speechless” in which she firmly declares that she will not be a good girl and be seen, not heard!  The  take on the story that allows a princess to take over her country as Sultan for the first time, is of course very current and encouraging to young girls but sadly, Naomi and Mena don’t have a lot of chemistry together as the love-struck pair.

Jafar tells Jasmine to be seen, not heardJafar tells Jasmine to be seen, not heardCourtesy of Disney

As a baddie, Marwan Kenzari doesn’t have much clout as Jafar. His voice is wispy and far from as threatening as it should be. Jafar’s evil but supposed to be funny bird Iago isn’t funny and has little to do until he becomes a “huge” threat at the end of the movie. Monkey Abu is computer-generated as well and it often shows that he isn’t “real”. You know a film is in trouble when your favorite side-kick character is a rug (magic carpet in this case).

Aladdin is captured by the Royal GuardsAladdin is captured by the Royal GuardsCourtesy of Disney

Messages are obvious: Don’t lie, learn to be yourself and speak out etc. Nice but nothing unique.

Will you and your family enjoy Aladdin? Sure but it could have been a lot better overall. We award three stars.

Aladdin Movie Review: 3

Aladdin Movie PosterCourtesy of Disney

See Aladdin in theaters starting Friday, May, 24th

Share Your Thoughts

Are you a big fan of the original Aladdin animated movie? Are you okay that it is now remade as a live action film? Are you a big Will Smith fan and will you enjoy him as the Genie? Share your feelings with a comment and/or on your Kidzworld profile page!