Do you remember 2000’s The Legend of Bagger Vance, 2014’s Winter’s Tale, 2013’s After Earth (it was actually ok, M. Night Shyamalan and Will Smith taking it on the chin…) and Suicide Squad, of course, another almost but not quite…
For Will Smith and his appearances in those less-than-blockbuster flicks, redemption comes in dazzling colors, and Aladdin, thanks in no small part to Smith, is as crafty as it is in your face. Mamma Mia 2 goes back to the land of Oz – and this is everything that James Franco’s Oz the Great and Powerful should have been. Aladdin satisfies on many levels, mostly because it is a roller coaster ride which keeps your attention on the big screen for the entire
This is truly a magical drama with tinges of comedy bathing the audience in the escapism that is action from the start that keeps on even after the words The End begins to close out the film.
High school drop-out Walt Disney had been falsely accused throughout the years and gives great weight to Howard Stern’s use of a cliche’ in Private Parts which Stern, of course, cleverly crafts and makes his own: “After all, being misunderstood is the fate of all true geniuses is it not?”
The Disney Company takes the world on many a magic carpet ride, and this one succeeds in a very large way. But it is Will Smith who emerges here larger than life. As Werner Klemperer as Colonel Klink and John Banner as Sgt. Schultz were the stars directly under Bob Crane as Colonel Hogan, it is the genie, Smith, who is the marquee name.
Keep in mind, the 1992 animated Alladin was the biggest grossing picture of that year with Will Smith referencing Robin Williams in a recent interview. How could you not? Twenty-Eight million as a budget turning into 504.1m is a nice day at the race track so why not bring it back 27 years later
Director Guy Ritchie’s films are highly successful, though they never resonated with this critic. Artistically, Ritchie gets huge marks for making a motion picture that can appeal to all ages, and captures the imaginative spirit moviegoers want. Need I tell you that as good as a film that John Wick 3: Parabellum is, the extreme violence of the Wick world is a descent into hell whereas Aladdin is the antidote where swords and sorcery replace the gunfire, Harry Potter being an effective way to combat the NRA on things of this matter.
Smith’s desire to become human, much like Data in Star Trek The Next Generation wishing the same thing, is like the Scarecrow wanting a brain: throughout the film, you see that Smith’s genie already IS human. And the Oz references are as tucked away neatly in the fabric as they were in Mamma Mia 2, these big budget fantasies going way beyond the Emerald City in bombast and cheer, just remember whence they were derived from.
For the very good-looking and unknown Mena Massoud (Canadian/Egyptian fellow – born in Egypt, raised in Canada as the linked outlet notes) – born September 17, 1991, the twenty-seven-year-old actor was a one-year-old when the animated Robin Williams Aladdin was released. Massoud is perfect in the role, a Christopher Reeve unknown coming in and instantly becoming a star…well, instantly in about two days as the screening was on Tuesday evening, May 21 and the film opens Thursday, May 23, so get ready world for a major new star. To quote Raquel Welch in the late Gore Vidal’s classic, Myra Breckinridge “Uncle Buck and I deal in myths, and movie stars are like gods and … its place because the human race requires that the Pantheon always be filled.”
Truer words were never spoken and Massoud delivers with Will Smith pulling out every thespian fiber from his soul, it only adds to the main actor’s cooperation and interplay. Think Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins working off each other so well in The Silence of the Lambs, irreplaceable intuition that makes for classic performances.
Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine is another near-unknown about to rocket to stardom in the new Charlie’s Angels 2019 version (the poor thing’s scenes in The Martian were left on the cutting room floor! See her as Ryoko in the extended version of that 2015 Matt Damon movie, if you’d like!)
Marwan Kanzari is the heavy here, yet another unknown playing the sorcerer Jafar. The sorcery is subtle until Jafar really gets things going, but we’ll let you see the film to find out how, why and what. You can bet on the fact that Kanzari’s naked scenes in 2015’s Bloedlink, based on the cult classic The Kidnapping of Alice Creed are going to be as overexposed as Melania Trump’s front page naked lesbian pose went worldwide during the 2016 election.
Guess Will Smith wasn’t the only one set free! Get the naked slideshow here
And so, Myra Breckinridge’s words ring true, three new stars to enter the pantheon and – perhaps – the best performance ever from Will Smith. This critic had a feeling in January 2019 that Shyamalan’s Glass was going to be huge, there’s no doubt that Aladdin is going to be part of a big summer that Avenger’s Endgame kick-started. Enjoy.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.