‘Aladdin’ remake leaves me speechless

Film beautifully adapted for live action


Fair Use from The Walt Disney Studios

Ben Sanford

Upon the announcement of a live action “Aladdin,” I knew it had a lot to live up to. The original “Aladdin” movie is a one of my childhood classics, and I hoped that this remake could be as magical as the 1992 film. The animated Disney movies have always had a special place in my heart, and despite the backlash towards remakes like “Beauty and the Beast” (2017), I have been a fan of the live-action recreations of Disney fairytales. My hopes were high, but I tried to keep my expectations low as I entered the movie theater. To my surprise I could not be more pleased with the results.

The movie kicks off with Will Smith, playing the Genie, setting up the story of the street thief Aladdin and the princess he falls in love with, Jasmine. There are beautiful, sweeping shots of the city of Agrabah, with enthusiastic, albeit autotuned, vocals from Smith as he sings “Arabian Nights.”

Mena Massoud, the actor portraying Aladdin, fits into the story perfectly. The outward charisma and sincerity Massoud displays early in the movie makes Aladdin very easy to root for. Massoud has a charming singing voice, but sells every musical number primarily with his acting. For the most part, I was very pleased with how the big musical numbers turned out. Songs like “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali” are energetic and magical, as I had hoped. Even when the vocals aren’t the strongest, I found myself dancing and smiling in the theater.

The cinematography is gorgeous throughout the film, with beautiful shots of Agrabah, as well as great filming of the big dance numbers. While watching the film, I wished I could go visit Agrabah myself, and be apart of the amazing culture of the great city.

The biggest disappointment from the movie is the film’s main antagonist, Jafar. Actor Marwan Kenzari doesn’t do much with the iconic role, which takes away from moments throughout the movie—especially the climax. Kenzari plays the role as rather bored and uninspired, not seeming to bring any nuance or subtleties to Jafar. However, the biggest problem with his character is that he is laughably unintimidating. Jafar doesn’t ever seem to be that much of a threat, which takes away from any tense scenes he is part of.

Nasim Pedrad stands out in her role of Dahlia, Jasmine’s handmaiden. She has hilarious and adorable scenes with both the Genie, and Jasmine, adding to the lighthearted fun of the film. The real star of the movie, however, is Naomi Scott as Jasmine. She elevates the already incredibly powerful character of Jasmine in every scene she is in. Scott’s performance of the new song, “Speechless,” is truly something to behold, and had my mouth wide open throughout the entire song. The way Scott modernizes Jasmine is extremely powerful and exciting to watch. Scott and Massoud have incredible chemistry, and their duet of “A Whole New World” is stunning visually and vocally.

The live action movie adaption of “Aladdin” pleasantly surprised me with impressive additions to the already stellar plot, impressive vocal and acting performances and gorgeous visuals.


“Aladdin:” ★★★★☆