We received the live-action version of Disney’s Aladdin on Blu-ray to review, it releases on September 10th, 2019. The film surprised me in theaters with how much fun it was, after the trailers made it look like it’d be a less-than-stellar production. I am happy to have it, especially for some of the scenes like “One Jump”, which is terrific. There aren’t a ton of good bonus features here, but some are well worth watching. Here is a look at the Blu-ray features with my thoughts, along with my original review.
DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE BONUS:
“SPEECHLESS”: CREATING A NEW SONG FOR JASMINE – “Speechless,” was written by Disney Legend Alan Menken, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for this version of “Aladdin.” Naomi Scott (Jasmine) talks about singing it in one take (impressively, I might add), and the writers share about how it was time that Jasmine had a song. “Speechless” was born out of the original Aladdin, from a comment made by Jafar. This is a terrific bonus feature though just 4 minutes long.
BLU-RAY & DIGITAL BONUS:
ALADDIN’S VIDEO JOURNAL: A NEW FANTASTIC POINT OF VIEW – Mena Massoud (Aladdin) was given a phone to document his experience making the film. This is a very fun bonus feature! I would love to see the idea incorporated into more film bonus features. It includes how the magic carpet ride was filmed (“A Whole New World” with Naomi Scott as Jasmine), along with “A Friend Like Me” starring Will Smith as the Genie with Massoud and much more. Massoud says his favorite memory was going to Jordan to shoot. This is about 10 minutes long and is my favorite bonus feature here. It gives a behind-the-scenes look at the filming from an actor’s point of view.
DELETED SONG – “DESERT MOON” – Jasmine and Aladdin sing a fully shot and edited (and lovely) song with an introduction by Alan Menken.
GUY RITCHIE: A CINEMATIC GENIE – This feature is about Guy Ritchie, who wanted to make a film that his family could see. It includes him talking about the challenges of creating the “One Jump” scene (at 36 frames per second instead of 24). He apparently runs a relaxed set, and everyone looks like they are having a good time filming together.
A FRIEND LIKE GENIE – Will Smith had big shoes to fill in making the Genie his own. Guy Ritchie chose him for the part, and Smith talks about his role (as other actors and Guy Ritchie also talk about working with him). There are some fun scenes here.
Falling Petals Into OJ
Jafar’s Magic Orrery
Silly Old Fool
Post Yam Jam Debrief
BLOOPERS – There are some cute moments here, but I don’t find most blooper reels that amusing anymore and this was just okay for me.
Here is my original film review:
In the months leading up to the live-action version of Aladdin, the movie trailers that were being shown gave me a lot of pause about the film. Disney’s live-action movies are really hit-or-miss – for example, this year’s Dumbo was a pretty big miss. So I went into Aladdin (directed by Guy Ritchie) with modest expectations. And I was happy to find the remake much better and more fun than I would have ever thought – an entertaining film with a Jasmine who has ambition beyond being a princess who still falls in love with street rat Aladdin.
The story of Aladdin follows along similarly to the animated film. The characters are all there – although different. There was a lot of talk about Will Smith as Genie not being able to measure up to Robin Williams. But I don’t think of any of the characters in the same terms as their animated counterparts. For example, Marwan Kenzari as Jafar is a deliciously fantastic villain. Does he remind me of the animated version? No. Does Will Smith remind me of Genie in the animated version? No. The two movies can stand on their own, no comparison is needed and the animated version has stood the test of time for over 25 years. I thought Will Smith as Genie was fun. Disney didn’t need another Robin Williams type because Robin Williams broke the mold after the animated version. His singing voice isn’t on the level of Naomi Scott (Jasmine), but it did the job. And the animals in the film, like Abu – they invoke the original characters but in a much more lifelike way (Abu in particular).
Mena Massoud as Aladdin is a pretty solid choice, and “One Jump Ahead” is a terrific near-beginning to the film where Aladdin and Jasmine meet. That was shown in a preview at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and I found it the strongest part of what was shown. The music in the film is obviously mostly well known except for one new song, the costumes are colorful and some of the performances are done in a Bollywood way.
Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine is a good choice for a princess who wants to be more independent and maybe eventually rule a kingdom. She sings and I thought the new song they gave her was fairly powerful. I don’t know if Speechless will stand on its own so much, but it fits into the film well. And Nasim Pedrad as Dalia is charming, the character is new – she assists Princess Jasmine and catches Genie’s eye as well.
Overall, I just really enjoyed the live-action version of Aladdin, probably more than almost any of the other Disney live-action films.
Mousesteps grade: B