“Aladdin” remake retains the spirit of the original

Evan Williamson, Courier Staff

Let’s face it, remakes of movies and TV shows are either a hit or miss (usually a miss). There are a lot of factors that cause this, so I thought we could look at one of this summer’s Disney remakes. In my opinion, the producers did very well at being different yet true to the original.

Everyone remembers the Disney classic Aladdin featuring Robin Williams as Genie, filled with comedy, action, drama, great songs and probably the first time you learned anything about Arabic culture (some of which may have been a little insensitive). With a classic like this, it would be nearly impossible for Disney to remake it as well as the original, but somehow they found the right formula to create the near-perfect remake. The big question that people were asking was, how do you replace Williams? The answer is you don’t. The way he portrayed Genie with his improvisation and impression skills cannot be matched (though Dan Castellaneta did pretty good in the sequel, TV series and video games). No one can replace him, so why even try? That’s where Will Smith comes in. People were skeptical about him playing Genie at first, fearing he would attempt to be Smith as Williams playing Genie, but he went a whole different direction with the character. By basing his role on a combination of his famous 90s roles, he essentially became the “Fresh Prince of Agrabah.”

When remaking a beloved classic, it’s important to keep a lot of things the same while also making a few changes. Some of the changes included Iago being played by Alan Tudyk instead of Gilbert Gottfried, which was somewhat upsetting because Iago wasn’t as important to the story this time around and less funny, but I guess that made it more realistic. The Sultan wasn’t portrayed as an idiot (which is fine), and they also took a few of the guards from the original and made a hybrid character to be the captain of the guards. They also did the right thing and added another female character to the story named Dalia. She plays Jasmine’s handmaiden who adds to some of the comedy that was taken away and was an interesting change to the main story. There were also a few cosmetic changes to clothing and some of the more controversial lines to songs were rewritten as well, too. A line from the song “Prince Ali” was changed from Sunday to Friday (Friday is the Islam holy day like Sunday is to Christians). But other than the change of flow in the story and just little things here and there, the spirit of the original Aladdin was there. The new film included a brand-new song sung by Naomi Scott (Jasmine) called “Speechless,” and wow is it a powerful song. If it doesn’t win a Grammy or an Oscar for best song, it will be a travesty. I encourage you to look it up. The visuals, music and characters made this remake probably the best out of all the remakes Disney has released.

I saw it twice in theaters and I’m looking forward to it being released on Blu-Ray Sept. 10. If Disney wants to make good remakes, this is the formula they should use.