Aladdin is Disney at the height of their creative powers and it shows. It is a film where everything that can work, does work and the studio seems to weave it’s usual magic over a classic story by becoming the definitive version of that tale.
It does this with the usual mix of iconic animation, great characters, funny writing and of course, iconic songs. Aladdin has them all but these are not just good, they are great, enticing and engaging from the beginning. It starts with a street trader (clearly Robin Williams but more on him later) who introduces the lamp alongside the tongue-in-cheek humour from the beginning.
From that point on, Aladdin never lets up. From the opening sequence introducing Aladdin as a kind-hearted thief through to the frustrated Princess Jasmine, her dope of a father/Sultan and the perfect Disney villain archetype Jafar: the story is tight, clear and fast-paced. It successfully builds the varied characters too before completely overshadowing them with the Genie.
The Genie was always going to be the most important part of an Aladdin movie but here Disney made one of their best casting choices ever. Robin Williams embodies the funny, crazy and lovable Genie perfectly. The performance he gives is classic Williams, even down to the almost nonsensical and rocket-speed monologues that Williams is seemingly ad-libbing with the animators playing catch-up.
The film works alongside Williams’ Genie but every time the character is on-screen, the movie is much better for it. The Genie also gets some of the better songs of the movie too. Disney have made a name for themselves with their iconic tunes and Aladdin adds to that collection perfectly. From the opening “One Jump Ahead” which manages to introduce the character of Aladdin in one song, through to the movie’s masterpiece “A Whole New World” which sits alongside other songs in the same ilk, like “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King.
There isn’t actually a poor song in the whole movie, with both of the Genie’s songs managing to push the story forward as well as showcase the Williams’ craziness which makes the character work so well. These are usually moments full of great animation and little background quirks (usually linked to The Genie). There is even some pop-culture references which Disney would usually avoid but adds to the charm of the Genie and Williams’ performance (although they do date the film slightly).
This animation extends to the finale which is a spectacle in itself. Disney can do some great finales for movies, elevating the stakes to a huge degree. This finale stands alongside the visual epics like the sea battle in The Little Mermaid or the fire-licked show-down in The Lion King. Jafar gets to stretch his evil legs as a credible villain and the use of animation is great, from a huge snake through to an hour-glass prison.
Above all, there is a great heart to Aladdin. The central relationships, especially that between Aladdin and The Genie, are great and well established. I defy anyone to keep a dry-eye once Aladdin is granted his third and final wish.
Overall, Aladdin is a Disney masterpiece. It manages to take a classic story and add the Disney magic that has transformed and defined so many other legendary stories. In this case it is done with some great characters, classic songs and a touch of Robin Williams magic.
Rating – 5!
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)
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