Aladdin film review: a whole new version

Does Guy Ritchie create a whole new world in his live-action version of Disney’s Aladdin?

Guy Ritchie’s live-action Aladdin had some big blue shoes to fill. Yet this remake manages to take the fun of the original firmly into a new generation, with a great mix of loving nods to the original and new fresh twists that make the film feel sufficiently different to the 1992 classic.

Will Smith’s genie is a different beast to what we saw from Robin Williams. He has more human traits and is often more like Aladdin’s wingman than his genie. This genie is drier with the comedy and brings with him plenty of Smith’s natural charm and charisma. His musical numbers are big, bright spectacles that just make you realise how much fun the cast must have had making this film and he even gets a whole arc that has nothing to do with Aladdin or his work as a genie, which is a real treat.

The star-crossed Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and Jasmine (Naomi Scott) are both fully developed characters here and the pair play well off each other. After all, both Aladdin and Jasmine are desperate for more in life but unable to escape the circumstances into which they were born.

This Jasmine is longing to speak out about so much more than just who she wants to marry. She wants to rule as sultan and believes that she can lead her people – and well. She wants to follow in her father’s footsteps but the law says daughters cannot do such things. This Jasmine also has an actual human friend (sorry, Rajah) and giving her someone to talk to who can actually talk back is a real shift for our princess.

Many of the secondary characters, from Jasmine’s companion Dalia (Nasim Pedrad) to the magic carpet, provide plenty of joy and magic to the piece. Aladdin’s monkey Abu is a particular highlight, bringing hilarity and physical comedy that works so well with the humans around him.

Overall, this Aladdin is just really fun, with a brilliant and even more feminist heroine at its core. Careful with your little ones though – it’s a bit scary on occasion, especially when evil Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) gets going.