ALADDIN, the latest film from director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes), is a live-action adaptation of the beloved 1992 animated Disney film. The film stars Will Smith (Men In Black) as the Genie, Mena Massoud (Jack Ryan) as Aladdin, Naomi Scott (Power Rangers) as Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari (What Happened to Monday) as Jafar, Navid Negahban (TV’s Homeland) as the Sultan, Nasim Pedrad (Despicable Me 2) as Dalia, Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods) as Prince Anders and Numan Acar as Hakim (TV’s Homeland).

ALADDIN is the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin, the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine and the Genie who may be the key to their future. When the power-hungry Grand Vizier, otherwise known as Jafar, sees the potential in Aladdin, a lowly street urchin, he brings him to the Cave of Wonders to retrieve a magical lamp that has the power to make Jafar’s deepest wishes come true and the possibility to change Aladdin’s life forever. However, unbeknownst to Aladdin, and the fun-loving Genie that he releases, are the sinister plans that Jafar, the Sultan’s advisor, has for both Aladdin and the lamp.

Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott in ALADDIN

Let me start off by saying that the 1992 film is in my trifecta of favorite animated films of all time. When it was announced that there would be a live-action adaptation I was naturally hesitant because of my love for the original. However, even though there seemed to have been a consensus that this movie wasn’t going to be good, I put those thoughts behind me and went forward with the notion that I would watch this adaptation with a clear mind. That said, I was shocked at how fantastic ALADDIN was. I would even go so far as to say that this is one of, if not the best, live-action adaptation that Disney has released thus far. 

What I loved most about this film is that watching it is an experience in and of itself. From the music to the costumes to the set design and everything in-between. Furthermore, the diverse cast was top-notch which gave the film a genuine feel to it and allowed for an almost seamless execution from director Guy Ritchie. Films like ALADDIN are important because it’s a reminder for studios and film execs that representation matters and should be respected which is why I’m glad that Ritchie and Disney took the time to find a diverse cast that featured people of color, most notably from the Middle East and India. I know a lot of people were worried about Will Smith’s portrayal of the Genie, which Robin Williams made famous, but what needs to be understood is that no one is ever going to replace Robin Williams or his portrayal of the characters he’s played. Will Smith took on the iconic character and not only paid homage to Williams but made the character his own using his personality strengths. I absolutely loved Smith’s interpretation because it was far enough away from Williams that we, as fans, can appreciate both.

Will Smith in ALADDIN

When it comes to the breakout stars of the film that landed on Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott, who played Aladdin and Jasmine. Their chemistry was palpable and, just like Will Smith, made the characters their own. Also, their musical performances were off the chart, especially when Naomi sang a brand new song, not in the original film, titled Speechless. Without getting too serious or political, the song is definitely relevant in regards to what a lot of women are facing in this current political climate which only added to the immensely powerful lyrics as well as Naomi’s performance. It’s a reminder that women don’t have to stay silent, that we have a voice, and we are just as strong as our male counterparts. Speaking of male characters, our villain Jafar also didn’t disappoint. Though some may not find him as nefarious as the animated version, I absolutely loved his character as it was the perfect mixture of slimy oil salesman mixed with entitled anger. I always love a good villain and I think Disney encapsulated that particularly well with Jafar. Lastly, I can’t end this review without giving a mention to Nasim Pedrad, who plays Dalia, a brand-new character in this adaptation of ALADDIN. She ends up being one of the funniest, most relatable characters in the whole film and I instantly wanted to become her best friend. 

Lastly, I need to talk about the production design, which was helmed by Gemma Jackson. Mixing Middle-Eastern designs with Bollywood-like performances resulted in some of the best imagery I’ve seen all year. This is shown most notably in the musical number for Prince Ali, which ends up being a beautiful and mesmerizing spectacular in and of itself. Even the costumes were iconic and I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of time it took to make all of Jasmine’s elegant gowns (also, I wish to own them all). I think it goes without saying there’s never a dull moment in ALADDIN and it honestly looks like all those involved had a blast making the film. I’m sure Disney purist will have a lot to say about the film, but it’s important to remember that this adaptation is for a new generation and at the end of the day, it delivers on all fronts. With that said, I suggest spending Memorial Day weekend traveling to the far-away land of Agrabah for an experience like none other when ALADDIN arrives in theaters everywhere May 24th. 

 

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Shannon McGrew

Founder/Editor-in-Chief at Nightmarish Conjurings
Shannon is the Founder of Nightmarish Conjurings and a lover of all things horror and haunt related. When she's not obsessively collecting all things "Trick 'R Treat" related, or trying to convince everyone that "Hereditary" is one of the greatest horror films ever made, you can find her designing interiors for commercial restaurants. An avid haunt fan, Shannon spends the entire year visiting haunts and immersive experiences throughout the Southern California area and hopes to one day design her own haunted attraction.
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7 thoughts on “Nightmarish Detour Review: ALADDIN (2019)

  1. “Lastly, I need to talk about the production design, which was helmed by Gemma Jackson. Mixing Middle-Eastern designs with Bollywood-like performances resulted in some of the best imagery I’ve seen all year. This is shown most notably in the musical number for Prince Ali, which ends up being a beautiful and mesmerizing spectacular in and of itself. Even the costumes were iconic and I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of time it took to make all of Jasmine’s elegant gowns (also, I wish to own them all). I think it goes without saying there’s never a dull moment in ALADDIN and it honestly looks like all those involved had a blast making the film. I’m sure Disney purist will have a lot to say about the film, but it’s important to remember that this adaptation is for a new generation and at the end of the day, it delivers on all fronts. With that said, I suggest spending Memorial Day weekend traveling to the far-away land of Agrabah for an experience like none other when ALADDIN arrives in theaters everywhere May 24th.”

    you’ve even got the *release date.* this isn’t a review, this is an advertisement. what, not ONE thing that _wasn’t_ “absolutely fantastic like oh my god so good???”

    it’s really a shame. the run-on sentences, the half/slash/ *quarter*-hearted “praise” for the “diversity” . . . . it’s like a B+ Language Arts assignment from perhaps Grade 5.

    which DOES beg the question: are you, honestly, in Grade school? if so, I apologize. I really do; it’s NOT like I *want* to rip on a young person’s writing. Or ANYONE’S writing.

    but it was obvious from even the Rotten Tomatoes™ blurb (obviously the thing that caught my bull-spit detector) that this is an open-faced ad puff piece that betrays a really heart-breakingly cynical barely-legible gobbledygook. is English your second or third language? if so, I apologize for all the vitriol (and recommend you keep practicing).

    Gah, I’m one of THOSE people – an internet “Troll” or “Goblin” or WHATEVER it is; the term for a person only bringing harsh negativity to light.

    but honestly – HONESTLY – review this sentence and tell me it’s not _incredibly_ amateurish:

    “What I loved most about this film is that watching it is an experience in and of itself. From the music to the costumes to the set design and everything in-between. Furthermore, the diverse cast was top-notch which gave the film a genuine feel to it and allowed for an almost seamless execution from director Guy Ritchie.”

    . . . . right?? it’s NOT just me. right?? right???

    whatever. maybe I’m simply a dull old man who gets off on shaming people’s efforts. i really don’t know. but kids (perhaps the primary audience for this sorta thing) deserve way, WAY better than this. it’s a poorly-worded, run-on-rant nightmare.

    unlike MY writing, which, as you can see does not run on at all and uses punctuation in all the correct spot’s and is really good and one of the best posts of the year.

    that was a joke. or, if you prefer, a “joke.”

    i don’t hate you. i don’t hate your work. i DO resent the heart that beats in time with a “Rave” review of a trifle like THIS thing, though.

    1. I’m the writer of this piece and honestly, not only were you disrespectful but you were also condescending. Do you feel better about yourself? Do you? I’m not a natural writer and I struggle at times, but I don’t go around bashing people’s work because it may not be as good or as bad as mine. You don’t like my review? That’s fine, but you don’t have to be such a dick about it. I loved the film and I did the best I could to convey that. It’s not a fluff piece, it’s a review of a film that I loved. With that said, are you a Rotten Tomatoes critic? Do you own a website? Do you get off on bashing women’s writing? Because what it sounds like is that you are a lonely old man who has nothing better to do than bash other people’s work.

    2. My initial response to this is to just say, “Wow.” There’s just a level of rudeness and condescending vitriol that even I can’t properly digest.

      With regards to your comment about Shannon including the release date, that is standard procedure for most reviews. Generally, you want to let the audience know when a movie is released. Does that make this an ad? No. It’s rather common courtesy to inform an individual when a movie is about to come out or where the audience can locate the movie for viewing.

      I agree with your assessment that perhaps you are a dull, old man who gets off on shaming people’s efforts. There was nothing within your comments that came across as constructive. There is criticism and then there’s just being a complete asshole. You, sir, were being a complete asshole. You went straight for the jugular, bringing in grade levels and terms like “puff piece” and making below the belt comments about whether or not English is her first language. Those comments were completely unnecessary. If you had an issue with the writing at hand, perhaps you could have been constructive rather than unnecessarily cruel.

      I don’t hate you. I don’t hate your writing. I just think you need a lesson in how to express empathy and learn how to express your negative opinions in a more constructive and pleasant manner.

    3. So weird to shame someone else for their writing when your post has all the structure and cohesion of a lunatic’s death dream. I can’t imagine what went so wrong in your life that you would be thrown into an emotional tailspin over an “Aladdin” review, but I pray that you’re able to get the help that you need.

  2. Dear “B”,

    The only “joke” is the complete utter garbage you spewed as a comment. (I used the quotes ironically because while your attempts at humor were miserable, only a joke of person would take the time to write this. I’m sorry, my explanation might be too confusing, I’ll dumb it down for you: I am laughing AT you, not with you.) I think it’s probably best that you crawl back into the toilet you slithered out from. I doubt I am alone in this thought. ….. ITS NOT JUST ME RIGHT??? RIGHT??? RIGHT??????

  3. I’m going to see this probably on Memorial Day but will admit I was on the fence about it. After reading your in-depth and great review, I have to see it now! Btw, I love the idea of calling the title a Nightmarish Detour Review. It’s so witty. Seriously, Nightmarish Conjurings is my favorite site because you guys cover so many different films from big-budget films to low-budget indies. It’s a great site, which I know takes a lot of work too.

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