Aladdin (2019): A Movie Review Essay
We are talking about the live-action remake of the animated film: Aladdin.
The important thing to note, at the outset, is that Will Smith stars as the genie of the lamp.
Now, to start off, let me say that, despite myself, I enjoyed the film. I say “despite myself,” because I take note of the fact that, as far as I’m aware, the Internet is displeased with this one.
Before I forget: I give this film a 7 out of 10.
I’m not going to give a plot synopsis because I expect that “everybody” knows the plot by now. In addition, as always, a plot summary can be obtained from “anywhere.”
The opening scene of the film had me thinking that Will Smith was playing two characters, but he was not.
You know, expectations can be an almost hypnotic effect upon one’s viewing experience. You see, Will Smith sings in this movie. At first I tried to convince myself that the whole thing was goofy and hilarious.
However, after I settled down and got real and honest with myself, I had to admit: Will Smith’s singing is not bad.
Before I go any further, I should admit a personal deficiency: I do not get musicals.
To me, musicals are like poetry, which I also do not get, for the most part. However, upon reflection, I have to admit that, as far as I can discern, the singing musical numbers were generally well done, thematically appropriate, and fine vehicles for expressing interior dialogue and character development where no other options presented themselves.
Indeed, in a strange way, I think that the musical numbers, somehow, made the movie more efficient. Why cram in manufactured characters to have manufactured dialogue, when you can just sing a song?
I am being serious. I think the songs kept the film from meandering and getting off track. I think that more grand singing numbers might have kept the Lord of the Rings ENDLESS, FOREVER-SPANNING SAGA from going round and round and round and round again, the way it does…
What is this story about?
Well, think of it this way: Have you ever been driving on the highway during a traffic jam? Have you ever wished the highway were bigger? If it were bigger, you think, traffic would flow along much more easily and swiftly.
However, what you really know is that if the highway were bigger, more cars would flow through it; and this, in itself, would solve nothing.
And so, getting what we think we want through magic does not bring happiness and contentment. It only hastens the desire for MORE at an exponentially quickened rate, so that one can fall into the trap of living a lifetime in three wishes — so that that there is nowhere to go but… into the lamp.
You see, the third and final wish of the villain is to be the most powerful being in the universe, even more powerful than the genie. The price he pays is to become a genie himself, and be imprisoned in the lamp along with his pet bird.
I am not going to go on much longer with this review.
After all, I’m sure the film has already been reviewed thousands upon thousands of times already.
Let me just wrap this up by saying that, at the conclusion of this film, four major thoughts hit me.
- The winner and still Heavyweight Champion King of the Big Screen is the Big Willie Style, Mr. Will Smith.
- Aladdin, the live-action 2019 remake, is yet another film, like Warcraft, kicks the butt of the Lord of the Rings saga, in terms of the soundness of its premise.
- Aladdin manages to deliver on the “female empowerment” motif without being clumsy, ham-fisted, maudlin, and in-your-face about it. I am referring to the sultan’s daughter’s desire to become the next sultan in her own right, a thing that had not been done in the ten thousand years of the kingdom, and so on and so forth. Her father sees the light, when she shows her worth during one of the most dire emergencies that the kingdom ever faced — and gives her the ring of succession, naming her the next sultan after all. From various reviews of Captain Marvel, I gather that subtlety on this point was lacking.
- The film suggests that freedom and power are opposites. We are given to understand that the Genie (Will Smith) is the most powerful being in the universe. Yet he is not free; he is tied to the lamp. Most of his power can only be manifested through the wish of he who rubs the lamp. It’s as though the universe will not allow truly unbridled power.
- Consider the President of the United States.
- He is the most powerful person in the world. Yet he is not free. He is tied to the “lamp” of the White House and Secret Service and its protocols. His power makes him an inviting target of violence. He cannot get up at 2 am and take a walk, by himself, around downtown Washington, by himself, if he feels like.
- The “three wishes” restriction comes in the form of the “Will of the Voters” or the voting public — or rather the Will of the Voting Public as seen through the prism of his major campaign donors — which interacts with other powerful politicians, also subject to the Will of the Voting Public of their districts (Senate and House), as seen through the prism of their major campaign donors. All of this is, in theory, subject to the interpretation of the Judicial Branch.