The first trailer for Disney’s live-action/CGI Aladdin premiered during the Grammys this weekend. Let’s just say that the response was probably not what Disney was hoping for.
The trailer is just one minute long, and it shows a glimpse of the updated scene where Jafar sends Aladdin into the Cave of Wonders to retrieve the lamp. When the cast was first announced back in 2017, the internet got real thirsty for Marwan Kenzari, the Dutch-Tunisian actor cast as Jafar.
Well, to be honest, he doesn’t really have the menace of the animated Jafar in this brief clip. I wanted to find him disturbing. Or hot. Or disturbingly hot! But instead, he was just kind of… there. The same can be said of star Mena Massoud, who doesn’t exactly light up the screen with his roguish charm.
As the gorgeous instrumental score segues from “Arabian Nights” to the more upbeat “Friend Like Me, we’re treated to a peek at Agrabah, which looks fantastic. And the parade sequence for “Prince Ali,” as well as our first official introduction to Princess Jasmine. Naomi Scott’s Jasmine doesn’t have enough screentime to show if she’s got the fiery personality of the OG princess.
If you look closely, you’ll see the enchanted flying carpet, Rajah the tiger, Iago the parrot, and what looks to be Jasmine taking Aladdin’s hand in the “Whole New World” sequence.
And then, the Genie appears. To be fair, I grew up on the original animated movie. Robin Williams is so iconic in that role that I truly can’t imagine anyone else doing it justice. And while Will Smith’s voice acting might be fine–he only says one line, “You really don’t know who I am? Genie, wishes, lamp? None of that ringing a bell”–the CGI genie is not okay.
From a still photo, it’s not too terrible. But he looks bad in motion. Really, really bad. Like, laughably “It’s 2000 and we just figured out how to do computer animation” bad. Is this a rough cut? Did director Guy Ritchie run out of money and have to get some high school students to finish the CGI?
The internet had a field day with the Uncanny Valley atrocity that is Will Smith’s Genie. He looks like the Blue Man Group’s biggest fan. He might as well be wearing an unlicensed knockoff Avatar costume. He is somehow worse than the CGI in the first Harry Potter movie, and that came out in 2001.
The live-action Aladdin has been hit with problems since day one. Bollywood is overflowing with talented entertainers who sing, dance, and act, yet Disney claimed they were having trouble finding people of color to fill the roles. They hired Guy Ritchie, a director who hasn’t had a hit in 10 years and who only made one good movie (that’d be Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels; AKA his first film).
And now this. Maybe Disney knows that these live-action updates will literally make a billion dollars no matter what, so they’re only putting in the minimum amount of effort.