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All the reasons why you need to watch the 2019 remake of Disney's Aladdin
Will Smith "lights up the screen" as magical Genie in Guy Ritchie's first ever musical.
Fans of the original Disney animated movie won’t be disappointed by the 2019 remake of Aladdin.
Director Guy Ritchie makes the live action movie feel fresh and current, appealing to fans of the recent slew of remakes - e,g. The Jungle Book, The Lion King - along with fans who are nostalgic for the 1992 animated version, too.
Will Smith makes the Genie his own - no mean feat considering Robin Williams's animated tour de force - alongside the perfect casting of Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi Scott as Jasmine - the latter complete with a new feminist attitude.
Here, we reveal the best bits about the movie, fascinating facts you didn’t know and Disney Easter eggs you didn’t spot, who plays the characters, and more, as Aladdin is released in the BT TV Film Store.
Who’s in the Aladdin cast?
Will Smith (Men in Black, I Am Legend) is the biggest name in the Aladdin line-up, playing the eccentric Genie who has the power to grant three wishes to whoever possesses his magic lamp.
Mena Massoud (Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, The 99) plays the titular character of Aladdin, above, alongside Naomi Scott (Power Rangers, The 33) as Princess Jasmine.
The supporting cast includes Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, Navid Negahban as The Sultan and Nasim Pedrad as Jasmine’s handmaiden, Dalia.
3 reasons to watch Aladdin…
1. It’s director Guy Ritchie’s first musical
When you think of director Guy Ritchie, you think gritty gangster films and violent action - his most famous movies include Snatch, RocknRolla, and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Needless to say, Disney films don’t spring to mind when you think of Ritchie’s repertoire - until now.
He’s dabbled in light entertainment before, with the recent Sherlock Holmes films, but Aladdin is his first foray into a full-on family flick, and his first ever musical.
He says his five children - Ritchie is father to sons Rocco and David with ex-wife Madonna, and sons Rafael and Levi, and daughter Rivka with wife Jacqui Ainsley - were the driving force behind accepting the Aladdin job.
Ritchie calls his five children his 'little creative crew', adding that the amount of laughs in the film is all thanks to his kids.
Asked if his children were the reason he wanted to take on such a different project, he told the Press Association: “Yes. Truthfully, as a filmmaker it’s fun to do something that you haven’t done before, but it is informed by the fact that there are five kids round the table, so the pressure was on for me to keep them entertained, so here we are.”
In a separate interview with Gizmodo, Ritchie spoke of the challenges of updating the Disney tale with “fresh embellishments and additions”, while making sure loyal fans felt nostalgic towards the original animated version too.
So did it pay off? Well Germain Lussier from the same site writes: “From the very first shot of Ritchie’s film, and at every turn thereafter, there are changes, both minor and major, that evolve that story and the characters for today’s audiences.”
Steve Rose from The Guardian writes that Guy Ritchie’s adaptation is “lively, colourful and genuinely funny” while Peter Debruge from Variety calls it a “high-risk, mostly rewarding live-action remake.”
2. Will Smith makes the Genie his own
Few Disney characters are more iconic that Aladdin’s Genie - memorably played by the late Robin Williams in the 1992 animated film.
With those big, shiny, gold slippers to fill, Will Smith admitted that the prospect of taking on the role of Aladdin’s master was “stressful and daunting”.
Luckily for fans of the original, Smith pays homage to Williams’ portrayal of the Genie, while putting his own spin on the character.
Legendary composer Alan Menken, who wrote the music for the original film and the remake, told Variety that “Will’s performance is a tribute to him - the emotion that’s in it”.
Smith says that reworking the songs in the film to include a hip-hop/rap element made it easier for him to bring his own self to the role of the Genie.
He says: “And that [playing with the songs] showed me how I could pay homage to Robin and not change the songs so much, so people would have the nostalgic value, but then also be able to come with my own flavour.”
Josh Spiegel from The Hollywood Reporter says Smith "comes alive" as the Genie, while Kayleigh Donaldson from ScreenRant.com says “it’s a delight to see one of the last remaining A-list movie-stars light up the screen with their exclusive charm in a way that only he can.”
3. It keeps the iconic songs - and adds a new, feminist anthem
Fans of the original film will be pleased to know that the big, famous tracks are included in this film, including A Whole New World, One Jump Ahead, Friend Like Me, and Prince Ali.
There’s some super flamboyant musical numbers, with Friend Like Me, when Aladdin and the Genie meet in the cave, surrounded by dazzling jewels and expertly choreographed, a notable highlight.
Will Smith called the musical sequence for Prince Ali, above, when Aladdin arrives at the palace surrounded by thousands of extras as well as horses, birds, and monkeys, a ‘masterpiece’.
But aside from the classics, there’s a whole new feminist anthem in the film, as Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) sings about feeling empowered.
In Disney’s original version of Aladdin, Princess Jasmine was a fairly passive character - her voice constantly muted by the powerful men around her.
In the 2019 version, she’s an outspoken feminist, with a new song written for the princess to amplify her voice.
Written by The Greatest Showman lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the song is called Speechless, and is all about how Jasmine will not be speechless about anything in her life.
Cat Rodie from essentialkids.com calls Speechless ‘the new feminist anthem our girls need’.
Listen to Speechless in full below:
Aladdin trivia and Disney Easter Eggs: Did you know...
1. Keep an eye on Aladdin's beloved magic carpet after Aladdin and the Genie leave the cave. According to ScreenRant.com, Carpet constructs a glorious, magical castle out of the sand - a nod to Disney's iconic logo.
2. Does Genie look different to you? Director Guy Ritchie deliberately portrayed Will Smith's genie with a bodybuilder physique - complete with bulging biceps, swollen pecs and ripped six-pack abs. He told EW: “I did want a traditional demigod, someone who looked like a big, strong muscular 70s bodybuilding dad.”
3. There’s a new character in the live action film named Prince Anders (played by Billy Magnussen), who’s a potential suitor for Princess Jasmine. Some fans are speculating that this new character, who proclaims he’s from "Scanland”, is a link to the upcoming Frozen sequel.
4. At the finale of the big musical number Friend Like Me, we see a number of elephants standing on huge colourful balls, circus-like - a nod to another Disney live action film, Dumbo!
5. According to IMDB, the Carpet flies over the Pridelands of The Lion King (2019) during A Whole New World.
What the fans are saying about Aladdin...
Disney fans praised the cast’s performances in the live-action adaptation, especially Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Naomi Scott (Princess Jasmine) and Will Smith (Genie).