Eppler: "Aladdin" remake isn't good despite a few bright spots

Eppler: "Aladdin" remake isn't good despite a few bright spots

The message Disney is getting from audiences on these remakes is loud and clear. They don't want different or fresh takes on old material like "Pete's Dragon" or "Cinderella," which were good. Audiences want almost the exact same movie again, but not nearly as good. 
 
 
The new "Aladdin" sure isn't good. Okay, it's not abysmal like we feared, but we're not grading on a curve here. It's bad. And what's most disappointing is there's an entire generation of kids where this will be their first exposure to "Aladdin" because Disney has made it so hard to find the 1992 classic - locked up in its stupid vault. 
 
Some may argue that this new movie should be judged on its own merits and not compared too much to the Disney animated classic. But that's impossible to do that when the new movie invites the comparisons with what is essentially a scene for scene remake - complete with the classic songs and key bits of dialogue. 
 
 
But let's say some nice things. Despite the horrendous CGI, Will Smith is OK as the Genie when he's not being asked to be Robin Williams' brand of goofy and just allowed make the role his own thing. Disney may have also found a star in Naomi Scott as Jasmine. She positively radiates. And the writers give Jasmine more of a stake in the proceedings - a more modern female character with ambition. Scott and Smith also pick up the slack for a wooden Mena Massoud as Aladdin. 
 
 
Despite the few bright spots, this is a creatively bankrupt movie. None of the new songs are keepers, and the performances of the classics just remind you how much better they were in the animated version. With a reported budget north of $180 million, the sets look flimsy, costumes off-Broadway quality, and the special effects not remotely convincing.
 
It costs a lot to look so cheap.
 
But nostalgia is a powerful thing, and for Disney, it's paying off at the box office.
 
EPPLER'S RATING: * * 
 

RATING SCALE

* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year
* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles
* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing
* * Mediocre - You can do better
* Awful - The worst, an insult to movies

 
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