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Watched Live Action 'Aladdin'

by Hapsetshut The Pharaoh 3 years ago in review
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So let's have some retrospective of the movie along with some side analysis of a few other live-action Disney adaption

I liked it. It was what I wanted most from this film, fun. And I did indeed squee at certain moments that brought me back to my childhood. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but it is a good film, I’d even say above average, and yet still, Imma say out some things I didn’t like and how I thought things could be done better, because my brain doesn’t know how to shut off.

Spoilers for the entire film people. Really, all of it. Also, spoilers for the animated movies and series if anyone cares about them. You can find a good chunk of the Aladdin animated series on YouTube, by the way, if you want to take that stroll down memory lane.

Looking back I’m realizing how much of this show not only shaped what sort of entertainment I liked but also how it was basically my whole cultural identity for a while. Thanks, dad, drop the ball much. (Still, love you.)

The film opens with ‘Big Willy’ on a boat with his wife and two kids. I think they attempted to make him look slightly different in hopes to fool the audience for a reveal at the end but like yeah that’s fooling no one. That and they also rely on the hopes that no one noticed that the wife is another character that shows up in the movie, but I digress.

The clips notes are, "Oh dad look, a cool boat! I want a cool boat!’ To which papa Smith is all ‘We’ve got a perfectly good boat right here! You were born on this dang boat!’ ‘Along with the rats?’

Again, paraphrasing, but same idea.

So Mr. Independence Day goes on to tell/sing them the story of Aladdin the princess and the genie (oh I wonder who that might end up being). Therein comes the first thing the film does that I don’t like. There’s a little montage while some opening credits go by, mostly names, and we get to see a bit of Aladdin, Jasmine, and Jafar doing stuff but it all takes place at night. I swear movies that have night scenes now—I know it’s supposed to be dark but like I CAN’T SEE ANYTHING! There is a way to do night scenes and light them properly—I’ve seen it done before and no, I’m not talking about the crappy day for night filters! Someone, please tell me I’m not alone in this line of thinking, please.

They also turned Agraba into a port city, which I understand but feel like they didn’t need to do. Look, there’s this whole subplot in the animated series about the original caravan that founded Agraba, and it was a whole thing ok? I go into that lore hard and I cling to it! Curse of being a comic fan yo.

So yeah; we peruse about Agraba get a sense of how things are then head out to the desert to see ‘young man’ Jafar sacrificing some poor sap to the less-than-wondrous Cave of Wonders. Seriously, people, that’s what you came up with? What did this movie spend the budget on that they couldn’t have made that thing more ‘wondrous’?

And yes, I know. Many people were more than a bit upset at Jafar's… 'makeover.’ On one hand, yes I see how he just doesn’t command the same presence as the animated one did, which I don’t feel is any fault on the actor's part, probably, but his prospects may have been improved had they put more work into his attire. I know the studio wanted to try and ground this movie to a degree—which honestly is probably going to be the downfall of all these live action adaptations—but Jafar’s original design just inhabited the character to a T.

Think about this now, never do we ever see Jafar in the animated film without his hat, or, to use the proper phrasing, turban? I’ll google it later the point is do you know what he looks like without the hat? Does anybody know? Is he bald? Does he have a ponytail? A Mohawk? We’ll never know! But therein lies my point, people can’t even imagine Jafar without it. Though I did see some rendition on y!gallery back in the day (RIP y!gallery) where he was basically partially balding but with a ponytail, and they were shipping him with Hades. Guess that one crossover episode was more influential than they thought.

But I digress; the point there was Jafar was a truly iconic and memorable character, and that was in part do to his striking design; it really feels like they just dropped the ball while going for the ‘more realistic’ take. Ya’ll gotta stop worrying about realism in your goddamn cartoon adaptation of magic and mysticism! I really wanted Iago to talk too! No, I don’t mean the parrot talk he does in the movie, I mean I wanted them to get Gilbert Godfrey back and friggen' voice him! It didn’t have to be as much as the animated movie but it just feels so wasted.

Also, Aladdin steals a necklace. In the animated series, they made a point that Aladdin almost exclusively stole food to eat. There’s a whole double episode about how he had this friend when he was a kid and that kid turned into like a demon thing cause he was a greedy grub. That show was lit yo.

There are a lot of good things in this movie, and some good changes. They made the Sultan much more competent for one, like he actually knows what’s going on and the like. Also having Jasmine wanting to straight up be sultan is a really nice touch too. Aladdin was never gonna wear the pants in that department, let's be real. Unfortunately we see a whooole lot less of Jafar hypnotizing people, which I feel was kinda a waste. Also, his staff has like a design on it. He gets another one later in the movie with an even more elaborate design, and some jewels like maybe it’s implying that the jewels are where the magic comes from or something? I don't know.

The first musical number is fun; they just have him meet Jasmine and have the apple thing happen first, though, so it’s him and her parkouring around the city, running from the guards instead of just him. Also, she lets Aladdin believe she’s the princess's handmaiden; it’s nice they gave Jasmine a friend, I guess. They’re cute; I don’t know how necessary it was, but it doesn’t really take away from anything. Coulda been a whole lot more Raja though. Like 70 percent more Raja.

And apparently, Jafar use to be a thief himself but worked his way up the ladder, which could have been good but they didn’t really go any deeper with it. Also, is it just me or does Jafar just seem petty? Like in the animated movie you kinda just felt like Jafar was that dark menacing person and always had been, but with this guy it’s like, yeah ok I get it, life was bad, but geez, dude, this is a little overkill.

And there’s no cute peekaboo with Carpet and Abu. They just get him out from under a rock. And the whole escape from the cave was not as epic as I wanted, but I was like four when I saw the original so maybe that just stuck with me.

So yeah, he meets Genie and that’s all pretty good, Blue Smith does some rapping and beat boxing which is cute. Honestly, I’m just happy to see him in something he can have fun in for once. It seems like all his movies have him frowning and shooting nowadays. They do this thing to where you have to be touching the lamp to make a wish, and I guess that’s to clear up some discrepancies from the original movie, but like, I think it’s just a tacked on unnecessary thing personally.

When he’s getting Al all princed up, they make a point to say that the genie magic will hide his identity—again, unnecessary if you ask me. Jasmine met him all of one time, and I doubt any of the guard really even looked at him. The only person I can really see this being needed for is Jafar since he’s spent the most time with Aladdin thus far but still. I never wondered why no one didn’t recognize him in the original. They cleaned him up and gave him nice clothes—lots of people would look way different after that.

They do a cute little thing with Abagwa and Abwa too like it’s a word the genie mumbled and tried to make legit. That was cute. Makes me wonder why they keep somethings so similar and others they’re ok with taking out though, I mean other than the animation for Genie is much more expensive here. Oh and apparently Genie doesn’t want to just be free, but to be ‘human’ as well. So I guess they weren’t thinking about adapting the sequel, which regardless of the animation quality was still a very good movie.

The Prince Ali song happens, then there’s this scene with Al trying to do words properly and he just starts talking about jams—I think it was ad libbed. Honestly, I woulda been fine without it, but it’s fine. Then Al make an uncouth comment about "buying" Jasmine, so she's not happy.

Later that night there’s a dance/festival to honor their guest, which makes me think they hired this kid for his dance skills, 'cause Genie controls him and that boy lays it down! Oh, and turns out Genie and Jasmine’s handmaid like each other—remember what I said at the beginning? So Genie ‘distracts’ the handmaiden by taking her for a stroll around the garden so Al can talk to the princess privately. Oh, and Jasmine has books. My mom, the history buff, claims they wouldn’t have books yet, only scrolls, but we don’t really know what year this is and I don’t think there’s anyway we could really find out say for asking directors or writers proper.

You know what movie really didn’t need a date? Dumbo. The immersion on that movie would have been so much deeper with out that date. But I digress. Oh and we find out where Ababwa is cause Al points to a map Jasmine was looking at to locate it. He points, and genie makes it appear. And the reason no one heard of Ababwa before is "There are new countries popping up every day," which, to be fair did happen a lot in the Middle East and Ottoman empire. Things were always breaking off or getting conquered. A whole new world doesn’t go to Greece or China, or even Egypt. They just fly around the city and into the dessert a bit, I think they coulda at least gone to Egypt, though.

JarJar gets Al the next day, claiming, "I saw you had a magic carpet, guess what. That was in the Cave of Wonders. Imma tie you to a chair so you’ll have to use a wish to save yourself, thus proving you have the lamp. LOL, bye’. So yeah that happens genie saves him but like apparently people claim in the animated version that this didn’t count and Aladdin was owed another wish. SO to clear that up Genie has him sign a contract dated the day before so he can save him. Really, that’s how concerned they were about this. And yet we can’t have Mushu or Lin in the Mulan movie aye? Those cucks.

They go to confront Jafar, he gets away (big surprise), and Al and Genie have the “Imma keep my third wish in case of emergencies yo” chat, which I don’t think played out quite the way they wanted? They’re trying to show that Al’s becoming a bit of a self righteous jerk and is being mean to Genie, but it just doesn’t totally read that way?

Oh, and then this next bit is good. Aladdin gets all mopey because of the fight and straight up leaves the palace! And goes back to his street home, but still dressed in his prince clothes!!! What in the ever loving, people! And of course, on the way there Jafar, pretending to be an old guy, runs into him and steals the lamp, I guess that’s a nod to the animated one or something. So then that starts to happen. Jafar doesn’t have a song here, I’m mad about that. Jasmine has a killer song here! You go girl! Also he doesn’t turn Raja into a kitten, boo. So when he wishes himself to be Sultan, the captain of the guard is gonna go along with it at first but then Jasmine comes in and give one hell of a speech, and he’s all, “You’re right, Jafar is an asshole”. So Jafar of coarse wishes to be an OP sorcerer, and I was disappointed in this costume too, and just starts magicking his problems away. I feel like the Jafar from Once Upon a Time mighta been able to bring more Jafar-ness to this role even.

I honestly can non remember how Aladin got outta Alaska or whatever—I’m just gonna assume it was Carpet. The last act is more or less a big game of hot potato with the lamp, in which Iago gets turned into a giant monster bird—I kid you not. Oh, at one point Jafar drop his shiny new staff and Iago turns back for a sec, but then he just magic grabs that shit up sooo I don’t know what they’re trying to say about his powers here. Then he straight up inhales everyone back to the palace, doesn’t turn into a giant snake (boo!), and get tricked into wishing himself into a genie though instead of genie he just says "most powerful being in the universe" because people felt like Jafar would know in the original that if he wished to be a genie he would know he’d be bound to the lamp—to which I call BS. I doubt highly that all genies start out bound or enslaved.

And so yeah—he turns big and red, takes Iago with him juuuust in case they decide to green light that sequel. Aladdin wishes Genie free, him and handmaiden hookup legit immediately, and we have a flash forward of the ship and everything we saw at the beginning, and then Aladdin just straight up leaves! Like, "Guess I don’t need to be around anymore, PEACE."

Jasmine's gonna go look for him, but before that Daddy Sultan gives her his super special Sultan ring and is all, "Girl, you a boss ass bitch; I was afraid of losing you but dayum you good." And as sultan she can change the law and marry whoever she likes. So she goes to get her man and straight up yells "Stop! By order of your Sultan!" If this damn movie did one thing right it is Jasmine. She is a ray of fucking sunshine and empowerment and I love it.

So yeah, that’s the movie. Not necessarily great, but definitely good, and unlike Lion King, you can really tell they tried in all the right areas. That’s the thing I think is gonna really be the downfall of these live action adaptations, they’re just not gonna be able to capture the wonder and majesty that the animated ones had, because they’re animated. I mean doing the older movies was a pretty decent idea cause those ones aren’t as relevant in popular culture as they used to be, even though the populous still knows about them. Like Jungle Book—that was really good both in modernization and adaption. And it’s getting a sequel, a real sequel unlike that direct to video travesty we got years before.

I don’t know if this was just me or not, but I always wanted a sequel to Jungle Book. Yeah I was a weird kid, not much has changed. Maybe I just wanted to know how Mowgli’s assimilation back into human society would go, and if he’d reject them and go back to the jungle Tarzan style or something.

Maleficent was also good and they took that whole ‘from the villain’s POV’ thing that’s been so popular lately. (RIP Once Upon a Time). Cinderella wasn’t as strong as the other two, but still solidly good. Dumbo could have been a really good movie, but it just got muddled down with plot, of all things… yeah, that was a weird movie.

I fear the live action Lion King is going to suffer from this as well. I know there have been a lot of complaints already about how they didn’t give the animals much expression to make them ‘more realistic’ to which tumblr replied back with 200 million+ pictures of animals with expressions. And also I just really hate Scar’s design... like, what is that? What even is that? Anyways, they seem to be sacrificing the magic here for realism, and that’s never a good thing.

Yup just saw the reviews for Lion King, called it. And what’s this I hear about a Lilo and Stitch live action adaptation? The actual crap, Disney? The actual crap. Also another word I found I could use instead of ‘magic’ is ‘emotion’.

These movies are getting a little ridiculous to be honest. Once in awhile is fine and fun but like we have four a year now? You’re not making another MCU here Disney! Chill! I’m still honestly excited for some more of these but like they to remember that this isn’t just about money, yes it’s mostly about money but it’s not just about money. You gotta care, otherwise there’s no real point, and you kill the magic.


About the author

Hapsetshut The Pharaoh

I write the things, all of them. All the things. You can find more things I write on my Tumblr

twitter also Hapsetshut

And insta, Happy_skull_productions

Patron and kofi, also Hapsetshut

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