In just a few days, we’ll get another taste of the Disney nostalgia machine. 27 years have passed since the cartoon version of Aladdin, featuring the late, great Robin Williams amazed us. Now it’s up to Will Smith and Guy Ritchie to deliver the goods on the live-action remake. The two are cemented as Hollywood legends. However, both have been on the downside of life’s roller coaster for a few years now. They took a great risk when they joined Aladdin. And we will soon find out how well of a job they did. For now, let us take a look back on the version we all know and love.
There are many reasons why Aladdin succeeded like it did. Though it’s never a surprise when a Disney animation does well. For me, it all starts with the two directors of the film. John Musker and Ron Clements had already directed The Great Mouse Detective and The Little Mermaid before Aladdin. Since then, they have only added to the list with films such as Hercules, Treasure Planet (severely underappreciated by the people and falsely shunned by Disney), The Princess and the Frog, and Moana. These two simply can do no wrong in my eyes. To me, all of their films are deserving of a live-action remake. Especially Treasure Planet Disney!
We Must Talk About Robin Williams
Of course when we talk about Aladdin we must also talk about Robin Williams. The man breathed life into every character he played and this is extremely evident in his role as Genie. Many have pointed out in the trailers for the live-action Aladdin that Will Smith seems as though he’s just being Will Smith playing the Genie. Every character Robin Williams played certainly had that flair of his, but he had a way of making each one unique and funny in a different way.
Williams improvised so much while recording his lines as Genie that there were nearly 16 hours of extra material they had to use at their disposal. You can tell when you watch the film and notice his touch on a character, even if it’s just his voice in animation. This is the biggest reason why Ritchie and Smith have such a tall task in front of them. The nostalgia machine Disney runs is a dangerous game, with high risk and higher rewards. Try to be different and independent from the animation and you lose people who loved the original as is. Try to make the same thing again and you have people screaming about how they already paid to see this film 27 years ago.
Aladdin: The Bad
As with all films, there are some bad parts worth discussing. I’ve always felt the ending fight to be nowhere near as good as the rest of the film, and far less memorable. It certainly isn’t bad, but it does stick out as compared to the greatness of the rest of the film. I always thought the 3rd act was the most important of the 3 in a film. It’s the last thing you see and therefore is the easiest for the audience to remember as they leave the theater/put the DVD back in its case. And if you are a Game of Thrones Season 8 hater, I know you agree with me entirely.
I truly do hope Ritchie and Smith are able to deliver us something worth remembering. They have a great career behind them and I hope an equally great career ahead of them. The live action films from Disney have been more miss than hit when it comes to critics scores, with fans favoring them a bit more. The box office is the real reason why these films will continue to happen for a long time to come though. Billions of dollars have already been made and at least a billion more will come this year alone (here’s to you, Lion King remake). No matter what, the original animations will always have a special place in my heart. They have been passed down generation to generation in my family, and I know that is a tradition I will enjoy keeping with my own children someday.