Hands up who loves Aladdin... That’s all of you, yeah? Seriously, there can’t be many people on the planet who haven’t seen, and LOVED, Disney’s 1992 version of the old Arabic folktale about a charming street urchin who meets a courageous Princess and a magical genie.
Well, the good news is that Disney is revisiting its 90s classic for a lavish live-action makeover. Here’s what we know so far about one of 2019’s most hotly anticipated family blockbusters...
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Will Smith will be getting jiggy with it as the genie
Some movie roles seem so perfectly suited to some actors that you feel as if it wasn’t so much a casting director who hired them, but fate itself. So it was when Robin Williams lent his larynx to the role of the hyperactive, purple-skinned genie in Disney’s original Aladdin. It’s hard to imagine what the character of the genie looked like on paper, as the super-kinetic Williams brought so much of himself to the role. Will Smith doesn’t quite have the same manic energy as the late Robin Williams, but he’s an effortlessly charismatic actor and will surely make the genie his own. Which is as it should be!
Guy Ritchie is directing
Yes, THAT Guy Ritchie. Eyebrows were certainly raised when Disney announced that Blighty’s own Guy Ritchie would be calling the shots on its live action Aladdin remake. Yes, that’s the same Guy Ritchie who wowed us in 1999 with the bone-crunching gangster drama Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. To be fair, not all his work has been 18-rated (his Sherlock Holmes films are pretty family-friendly), but it’s still a shock to see the ex-Mr Madonna behind the camera on a wholesome Disney flick. But we’ve got to trust the Mouse House here – after all, Ritchie is a dad himself, and Eli Roth, another director whose most famous work is certainly not kid-friendly, recently made a successful transition into the family film arena with The House with a Clock in Its Walls. We can’t wait to see how this one reinvents Guy Ritchie’s career.
It’s the latest in a series of live-action Disney remakes
Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, Pete’s Dragon, Maleficent, Cinderella… Yes, Disney has been busy these past few years plundering its back catalogue to bring old animated classics to life. All were risks, as all of these films were beloved in their original forms, but in each case Disney has given us a movie that pays tribute to the first film, while also doing something wildly different with it, reinventing it for a new generation. The 1992 Aladdin is generally regarded as one of the all-time great Disney greats and was instrumental in kick-starting the brand's renaissance, so Disney hasn't gone into this one lightly. We can’t wait to see what this Aladdin will bring...
Expect a mixture of the familiar and unfamiliar
All of the Disney remakes so far have paid loving tribute to the original. These are remakes that don’t want you to forget the previous film, but want to honour it. It’s said that Guy Ritchie’s reboot will keep many of the songs from the first film and, judging from past experience with these movies, will probably end up keeping some of the designs that we know and love too. Certainly, come 2019, it’s going be a powerfully nostalgic trip to the cinema for all us who fell in love with the 1992 version when we were kids.
Newcomer Mena Massoud is Aladdin
Never heard of him? Don’t worry, the whole world will know his name within a year. At the moment, 27-year-old Mena Massoud is probably best known for his role in Amazon Prime’s Jack Ryan series (in which he plays Ryan’s CIA colleague Tarek Kassar), so nabbing the title role in Disney’s tentpole blockbuster is certainly the biggest break yet for the Cairo-born, Canada-raised actor. Mega-fame is coming your way, Mena...
The teaser trailer is already here
The internet went wild last week when the first trailer for Aladdin dropped. This is very much a teaser trailer, though, with the emphasis on ‘tease’, giving us just a tantalisingly brief look at Aladdin grabbing the lamp and a few shots of the movie's Arabian setting. Expect a fuller trailer next year, when we’ll hopefully get our first glimpse of Will Smith’s genie. Roll on 2019…!
Aladdin hits Cineworld on 24th May 2019. Let us know how excited you are @Cineworld.