“Aladdin” is one of those timeless stories that connects with audiences of all ages. In this latest live-action version of the film, Disney does a marvelous job in bringing the story to life for a new generation.

The film tells the story of Aladdin (Mena Massoud), who lives on the street stealing to survive. He encounters a beautiful woman who turns out to be a princess. Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) is in the process of being courted but she has no connection to her suitors. When she returns to the palace, Aladdin breaks in to return a bracelet. 

Aladdin is caught and thrown in the dungeon where he is recruited to retrieve a lamp from a cave. In his journey to retrieve the lamp, Aladdin discovers it contains a magical genie inside (played by Will Smith). With three wishes, he uses the genie to transform himself from a commoner to a prince to win Jasmine’s heart. But Aladdin finds out that love isn’t something that can be wished upon but is built upon a foundation of honesty and respect. 

The new film closely follows the storyline of the original 1992 animated movie. So, don’t be too surprised by the narrative that unfolds on the screen. 

The most significant change to the film is in its music. One of the songs, “Arabian Nights,” which introduces the story and its characters to the audience, had new lyrics written for it. I thought the change gave the story a bit of a facelift and, at the same time, connected the audience with the narrative straight away. 

A song called “Speechless” was written for Jasmine and added to the movie. It is an empowering song that encourages people to stand up for what they believe in and not just to be swept away into the darkness. This song was a great addition to “Aladdin” and helped to round out Jasmine’s character by giving the audience a chance to see what makes up her character and heart.

The film also featured two reworked versions of the song “Friend Like Me,” which work well within the film’s construct. Smith’s version reflects his roots as a recording artist and has a rap flavor. It’s a good re-mix of the original 1992 version. 

The second version is performed by Smith and DJ Khaled at the end of the credits. Like the original version, “Friend Like Me” is filled with a lot of high energy that will keep you jumping. 

When I watched this movie as a kid, my favorite character was the genie, who was voiced by Robin Williams. Williams brought so much energy to the role that it made the genie seem larger than life. Those light-hearted moments filled with laughter are something I won’t soon forget and will always treasure. 

With that being said, Smith had big shoes to fill as left behind by Williams – and there was a lot of expectation and pressure put on Smith even before the first scene was shot. I think Smith did a tremendous job in making the genie a lovable and funny character. Throughout the film, he kept me laughing and his performance allowed me to focus on the story. Smith gives moments in the movie that you will be talking about on the car ride home. 

One word of caution, this film does blend live action and computer-generated effects. Unlike the original movie, there are some scenes that could be a little scary for a younger audience member. Older children might be a bit better suited to see this film.  

The movie runs for 128 minutes and is rated PG for some action/peril. I give “Aladdin” nine out of 10 stars.   

For more information about this film, go to its website at https://movies.disney.com/aladdin-2019.

Andrew Branca is an award-winning journalist with the Waxahachie Sun. Contact Andrew at andrew@waxahachiesun.com or by phone at 972-268-7022. Be sure to check out his movie review videos online at www.waxahachiesun.com.

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