Despite the weather, summer can certainly be felt in the cinemas with Disney's newest live adaptation of one of its own animated features, Aladdin. Whatever joy you think you'll find, however, you are mistaken—this is possibly the worst film of the year.
Mena Massoud (Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan) plays titular hero Aladdin, carrying with him as much charm as the high school jock thrown in the spring musical for unknown reasons. Massoud's delivery is consistently flat, forced and uninspired. Naomi Scott (Power Rangers) as the headstrong Princess Jasmine brings more effort and panache than Massoud, yet we are still left with a yearning for more. Arguably the worst performance, however, belongs to Marwan Kenzari (Ben Hur; not the old one) as the insufferable counselor and villain, Jafar, and is he ever insufferable. Kenzari's performance comes off as less threatening than an opened top of canned cat food, less devious than a child with desires for world domination (not counting Brightburn). And then, of course, Will Smith arrives as The Genie, one of the most memorable characters in Disney history thanks to Mister Robin Williams. You'll certainly laugh and cry while Smith performs; the laughter from embarrassment and the tears from yearning for his predecessor.
It's hard to imagine director Guy Ritchie had promise in the Disney vein given his pedigree of blue-collar hooligan movies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, anyway, but it's almost as if the Disney execs demanded the director repeat his last disaster (King Arthur, if you're curious) only with a bigger budget and more beloved characters to destroy. There is approximately a half hour of new scenes not in the animated original, and the tedium Ritchie builds up within them is enough to make anyone fidget.
In fact, hardly any highlights can be mentioned whatsoever: The sets look as if they were assembled over a weekend, the costumes are unconvincing, the lighting is beyond flat. Even worse, the musical numbers are mind-numbing and lacking any joy in choreography as voices are excessively lathered with autotune; at least Alfonso Ribeiro's famous Carlton dance from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air can be seen in a dance sequence. The special effects might be the worst, though, especially when it comes to the animals. Abu the monkey, Iago the parrot and Raja the tiger are all featured, but reduced to reactionary set pieces, devoid of any personality. Who would've thought Gilbert Gottfried's voice would be missed?
Oh, and one last word of advice—if you're a parent, lay ground rules for bathroom and possible bar breaks with whichever adult accompanies you. You'll need, and deserve, personal rewards for your endurance.
+The Carlton dance, that's it
-Absolutely everything else
Directed by Ritchie
With Massoud, Scott, Smith and Kenzari
Violet Crown, Regal (both locations), PG, 128 min.