Aladdin ★½

Where to start with this one?

There are moments in this live-action remake of Aladdin where you can see a version of this film that actually works. Alas, it hardly ever does.

The musical elements should've been adapted more in a West Side Story kind of way. Here they essentially butcher Alan Menken's wonderful songs. Starting with "One Jump Ahead" but recurred in "Prince Ali" the actual singing is way too low. The lyrics tell part of the story and should be highlighted, not buried. Contrast this with "Speechless", the new song, that puts the lyrics front and center. It's a terrible song that doesn't actual fit in with the rest of the soundtrack but at least they didn't brush over it.

Another part of the problem is the ADRing of the songs. Obviously the actors didn't sing those songs on the set while shooting, dubbing them though makes the scenes feel lifeless. When Mena Massoud is running through Agrabah singing "One Jump Ahead" there's no emotion there, "Prince Ali" is similarly downplayed, including on a visual level. The one musical scene that kind of works if "Friend Like Me" – but that brings another issue to surface.

During "Friend Like Me" we can see Aladdin clearly dancing along with Genie, yet later on when Ritchie turns his movie into Step Up: Agrabah he has to be puppeteered by Smith's character to dance. It's a weird scene nonetheless, I don't really understand the purpose of it other than to maybe appeal more to younger viewers today. The same could be said by having Aladdin do parkour which opens up its own can of worms. At one point Aladdin asks Genie to get him over to Jasmine's room even though on the one hand he could just parkour over there and on the other hand he has a magic carpet. So why ask for Genie's help?

There are more little quibbles like this where Ritchie can't even plagiarize a kid's movie right.
● Instead of tricking Genie to get them out of the cave (the ´92 Aladdin claims the Genie probably can't even get them out of the cave, so he proofs them wrong) this Aladdin here clearly phrases it as a wish ("I wish for you (...)") – only to get out of the whole "3 wish" thing by setting up the ludicrous rule that you have to rub the lamp while wishing for something. Does that mean a person without hands could never be using the lamp? Can he rub it with his feet? His nose?
● Genie himself is pretty lax in his loyalty servitude thing, basically betraying Jafar by teleporting Carpet over to the Antarctica to save Aladdin when the whole group was simply exiled there by Jafar in the original. Which made it feel more organic.
● Once Genie is freed he asks Aladdin to tell him "to get" something, which makes no sense since that wouldn't be a wish anyway. Even if Genie would still be a genie he wouldn't have to get Aladdin anything if he didn't rub that damn lamp and wish for it. The movie sets this up itself. This change is a little thing, merely a verb, which makes me wonder why neither Ritchie was aware of this while writing it nor Smith or Massoud while acting out the scene.

Additionally the movie feels very off in regards of costuming and production design. The Cave of Wonders is an actual cave with a lion's head entrance that I guess activates as soon as someone approaches? It look's quite ugly and posting the magic lamp on top of that rock feels unnecessarily recluse (the point was probably to highlight Aladdin's parkour abilities again). Jafar tells him not to take anything which leads to a moment where Abu wants to take something only to get reprimanded by Aladdin. Two seconds later it is Aladdin who wants to take something and Abu is reprimanding him. They reverse this shtick another time until Abu isn't really taking but merely catching something. The whole thing makes no real sense to me. The same could be said about Aladdin tricking Jafar to wish to become the most powerful being in the universe instead of granting him the powers of a genie. How can you be a genie if you're the most powerful being in the whole universe? You would still be a slave to a lamp waiting for a master – even as the most powerful being? So does God himself come with a lamp, too? It's another change of phrasing that shoots itself in the foot for no real reason.

The Sultan's palace looks less pompous and the Sultan himself also is a very forgettable character (both from his appearance but also his character). As a matter of fact the only character that kind of pops in this whole film is Nasim Pedrad's maiden. She seems to be the only one who actually enjoys being in this. Jasmine has to wear a bunch of different outfits, none of them matching the beauty of her original dress. Iago is more ore less a joke (not in a good way), Abu feels soulless, Carpet is underused, Rajah is alright I guess.

Bottom line: this didn't have to be this bad. I don't really understand how you can fuck up copying from a superior movie that much. The good thing is, judging by that ending at least we might not have to suffer through a sequel.