Will Smith wasn’t half bad as Genie in ‘Aladdin’

Let’s be honest, this could have only gone two ways. Either Disney was going to pull out all the stops to make the live version of the 1992 animated movie a cinematic spectacle or the film would be trash.

Fortunately, there’s a middle ground, “Aladdin” turned out to be a decent film.

For anyone who’s ever seen Disney’s animated version of “Aladdin” with the last 27 years, there is absolutely no reason to see the new film; unless you’re a fan of Will Smith.

The new film basically consists of the same script and score from the animated movie, with only minor changes that have no real effect on the overall story. Besides more songs, only noticeable additions were changes in the storyline for one or two characters, giving them a little more depth.

There were also a few well-choreographed dance numbers and a couple of great special effects that stacked in the film’s favor for becoming relatively even with the animated movie.

Unfortunately, it seems as though a lot of singing and dancing, and a cast made up of mostly Middle Eastern and South Asian looking people, gives the impression of a Bollywood knockoff.

And while the Bollywood vibe is definitely a major negative for the film, there was nothing else alarming enough to make its stock plummet any further.

What people really wanted to see was if Will Smith would be able to step into the very large shoes that the late Robin Williams left behind, and walk around competently as everyone’s favorite genie.

Surprisingly, Smith did a good job.

It’s very hard to compare Smith’s performance to Williams since the later was just a voice and the former actually became Genie.

Will Smith is Genie in Disney’s live-action “Aladdin,” directed by Guy Ritchie. (Photo: Courtesy of Disney)

Undoubtedly, Williams did a phenomenal job voice acting the character, and he probably would’ve been great portraying Genie on the big screen, but the reality is that he never appeared on camera as the blue being.

Whereas Smith gave a rousing theatrical performance, using everything he’s learned within his 34 years of entertaining to nail this role.

Not only did act his butt off, but he sang, danced, and joked his way into becoming a believable Genie. Smith also added his own flavor that allowed him to come out from Williams’ shadow and appear to be more comfortable in the role.

However, that’s not to say that some of the lines that Smith recited, and songs that he sang, weren’t reminiscent of how Williams did it.

Furthermore, some of the hip-hop elements that were brought into the film might not have been so believable without Smith’s presence.

A lot of people forget that before he was an actor, Smith was in the music industry, and besides being able to rap he can actually carry a tune. Which is really impressive since it seemed as though his co-stars couldn’t.

While actors Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott, who play Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, may or may not be able to sing, it seemed as though the voices heard during the musical numbers didn’t belong to them.

This was another aspect of the film that made it Bollywood-ish.

Overall, the film was decent. Against the animated movie, it was slightly worse. However, it’s good enough to be a substitute if an act of God wipes out all copies of the 1992 animated movie.

If Disney’s goal was to make something better than the animated movie then they failed, but if their objective was to recapture some of the wonder that made the animated “Aladdin” movie popular 27-years-ago, mission accomplished.

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