By: Christian Harding (Three Beers) –
So yes, this newest version of Aladdin boasts good production values, a solid cast, and some powerful renditions of songs both old and new. But what’s it all in the service of? A beat for beat recreation of a film that’s a.) Less than thirty years old, b.) Still very much in the public consciousness as far as pop cultural influence goes, and c.) From an entirety different visual medium of storytelling.
None of those three factors would be as much of a hindrance were the narrative more original. But the film’s slavish devotion to the original’s formula and hesitation to do anything other than rearrange a few plot beats or add filler to what’s already there is what truly keeps it from attaining the same magic that was captured 27 not-as-long-ago-as-you-think years ago. To say nothing of completely removing any surprise or tension from the storyline at all, which definitely doesn’t help things either.
Is the mere fact that a film exists enough to hold against it? Despite being a surprisingly enjoyable experience, I still remain unconvinced that the whole torrent of live action remakes Disney is now churning out on the regular is a necessary experiment. Some are definitely better than others, but when all is said and done, you just simply cannot beat the magic and wonder of the originals. And no amount of A-list celebrities, production values, or rushed & creepy looking CGI effects is ever going to change that fact.
At the end of the day, Aladdin was actually a pleasant surprise. Still an utterly corporate product that didn’t need to get made. But as far as those things go, it’s honestly not that bad. It’s more lively and colorful than the Beauty and the Beast remake, and in the broad strokes, it holds its own as a standalone feature when mentally removed from association with its animated counterpart. Nothing wholly exceptional, but as far as a two hour time waster in the theater, you could probably do much worse. That may sound like very faint praise, but take it for what it’s worth.
Aladdin (2019) Drinking Game
Do a Shot: whenever Aladdin makes a wish.
Do another Shot: each time there’s a musical number.
One more Shot: every time the Genie “turns human” and ditches the blue tint.
Shotgun a Beer: when the whopping one(!) brand new songs kicks into gear.