Disney has an interesting balancing act on its hands with their recent live-action remakes as they attempt to assuage the modern taste for nostalgia while also appeasing a modern audience. Although nostalgia has lately been proven to appeal to the box office, some aspects of Disney’s animated classics will probably not have aged as well. Their storylines tended to be rather two dimensional, and many characters lacked depth. Disney has been striving to make these stories more palatable to a modern audience by making them more gritty and/or realistic. Look no further than Tim Burton leading a Dumbo remake.
This trailer of Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin is less stingy with footage than the first teaser, showcasing a remake that is incredibly faithful to the 1992 original. Check it out here:
Like the first trailer, we open overlooking the Sultan’s palace before diving into the marketplace of the city that is home to Aladdin (Mena Massoud). As the title character flees from the guards, many of the shots are almost identical to those from the original animated film including his parkour-esque escape.
Next Aladdin and Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) journey through the desert to the Cave of Wonders. Some of this footage is retread from the previous teaser trailers as Aladdin enters the cave and approaches the lamp.
Blue Will Smith is summoned from the lamp and given his first chance to stretch his Genie (lack of) legs in this trailer, with clips of “Friend Like Me” sounding more rap-like than the iconic Robin Williams version. It seems like there may be less Genie shape-shifting and more chance for Smith to use his comedic chops in his own style.
Fans have been concerned that no one would be able to fill the shoes of the iconic Williams Genie from the 1992 animated film. Even when Smith was cast, it was hard to imagine anyone else playing the Genie. However, Smith seems more comfortable as the Genie in this trailer.
He makes a very on-point joke about the danger of literal wish-granting but does turn Aladdin into a prince for his grand entrance to Agrabah. Of all his appearances in the trailer, he is only blue in the Cave of Wonders scene which may explain his look in the early Entertainment Weekly photo.
Many of the shots in this trailer are nearly identical to those from the original film from the Cave of Wonders…
…to the Prince Ali sequence…
…to “A Whole New World”…
Aside from Williams’ Genie, probably the most iconic part of the original Aladdin is the song “A Whole New World,” sung by Lea Salonga (known for voicing two princess and starring in the 10th and 25th editions of Les Mis) and Brad Kane (fun fact: he ended up as a writer and co-producer of J.J. Abrams’ show Fringe). Anyone wanting a real nostalgic kick can check them out reunited with Alan Menken performing the song on Good Morning America in 2015.
This song is shown in the trailer and Naomi Scott as Jasmine seems to have good vocal chops; her version of the song definitely pulled on the nostalgic heartstrings of this millennial. She is also sporting the quintessential blue Jasmine outfit (though this version is more gold embroidery and less MC Hammer pants). Unlike some other Disney live-action remakes, her voice doesn’t sound horribly autotuned. It’s not surprising, given her musical background, but it is nice to see this lovely song being done justice. Massoud is not heard singing in this trailer and doesn’t have the same musical history so whether he will be able to carry his musical weight through the film is unclear.
The rest of the trailer is quick cuts of (mainly) action scenes. A lot of these are familiar to those who have seen the original film. They hit a lot of the iconic shots, even a glimpse of Aladdin in an icy chasm after he is banished by Jafar.
Some characters still haven’t had much screen time in the trailers we’ve seen so far. Disney had been keeping quiet as to whether Iago would be able to talk in this remake, but The Hollywood Reporter just announced that Disney staple Alan Tudyk is voicing Jafar’s evil henchbird. The character is seen in this trailer and is briefly enormous…
Another character we haven’t seen much of is Navid Negahban (of Legion fame) as The Sultan. He is seen cowering behind the sorcerous Jafar in one brief shot of the trailer but is otherwise absent. Chances are he’ll be a little less bumbling and goofy, in the same way that Belle’s father was adapted in the Beauty and the Beast remake.
Although the Genie looks more promising in this trailer, Jafar is still a little underwhelming. He comes across rather milquetoast in contrast to the original hyper-evil version brought to us by Jonathan Freeman. He is also young and handsome compared to the original Jafar, whom even the Sultan described as “so old” when he suggested marrying Jasmine. Disney has been making a point in recent years to make their villains more three-dimensional compared to the cartoonishly evil versions of the original animated films, so perhaps this was a deliberate choice when casting Kenzari.
How (or if) Disney intends to branch out to make this a more modern adaptation remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see how they try and modernize this story, but audiences will have to wait for the film to know how they will do so. They are keeping any major changes under wraps as overall this trailer shows a very faithful remake of the beloved 1992 animation.
Aladdin comes to cinemas on May 24th.