Complete A-Z list

Aladdin (IMAX in some cinemas)


Stars: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Nasim Pedrad, Navid Megahban, Jordan Nash, Billy Magnussen

Director: Guy Ritchie

Many years ago, Hollywood made an 'eastern' called The Prince Who Was a Thief, with the then-hot young team of Tony Curtis and Piper Laurie. Here it is again, to all intents and purposes, with songs (only two of them memorable), inferior acting, a very splashy budget - the director seems intent on proving that bigger is better - some fun special effects, and the blessed bonus of Smith as a blue-skinned genie of the magic lamp.

Aladdin (Massoud), is a street thief in Agrabah (the film was shot in Jordan) with an equally thieving monkey, who encounters an incognito princess (Londoner Scott), whose dearest wish, this being a PC version, is to inherit her father's sultanate, much to the consternation of scheming vizier Jafar (Kenzari, only mildly threatening), whose snake staff can, much like Kaa in The Jungle Book, bend people to its will.

Lured by Jafar to a vast but treacherous cavern filled with untold wealth, Aladdin is commanded not to touch any of the jewels there, but to bring Jafar the lamp, whose genie will grant the holder three wishes: it sits on top of a rocky pillar.

Aladdin finds and releases a trapped magic carpet there, but things go pear-shaped from then on, resulting in the cavern's collapse, with our hero trapped inside, his first wish being sensibly to ask Smith's jammin' genie to get them out of there.

The second wish is to make him a prince instead of a thief (see what I mean about the earlier film?) so that he can woo the fair (well, actually, dark) Jasmine on equal terms. Jafar, of course, aided by his evil familiar, a sneaky, spying parrot, has other ideas.

Massoud is a bland and somewhat mature Aladdin with a pleasant singing voice, while Scott is stronger, but often sings too loud, drowning her co-star in the Whole New World duet. And she may have Indian heritage, but comes across very much the conventional Hollywood cutie.

The songs themselves often seem intrusive, and so the film, as a musical fantasy, consequently falls between the two stools. And Aladdin's sudden self-regard towards the end, and equally sudden enlightenment, seem merely unbelievable plot contrivances.

Still, the fun does come fast and furious, and younger viewers might rate this more highly than I did.

David Quinlan

USA 2019. UK Distributor: Disney. Technicolor.
126 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 22 May 2019